Chef Lauren Everet, at The Soup Kitchen London, tells us what City Harvest means to her and what she has seen during Covid-19.
"The City Harvest delivery days are the highlight of my week, my mind starts going crazy with ideas as soon as I see the goods come off the truck!
People are more desperate now than we've ever seen them. With all of the closures, our numbers have increased with so many new faces. We've seen the extremely young (18-21) and many pension age guests. We've seen people come in who obviously haven't been sleeping rough very long and some who look like they're right on the cusp of homelessness. We had 161 people in for a hot meal recently, which was a new record for us, unfortunately, but we fed them all, one by one.
Typically, a worst-case scenario for people is that they have to get a free sandwich at the end of the day or go through bins in the back of a restaurant for food that's been discarded. That's not even an option now as everywhere has closed.
Approximately 95% of our guests are sleeping rough. About 90% of those are men and our average age is 55. Our friends are predominantly British, but we have users from, quite literally, all over the world, including many refugees. There is a small percentage of people who are what we call "food poor". They may afford accommodation, but cannot afford the bills, transport, food, etc. One of the things we have done with those guests is given them a food parcel to take home that lasts a week to ten days. That stops them from coming out and has helped us reduce numbers"
Chef Lauren Everet - Why She Loves City Harvest
"I’m so lucky to have been able to work all over the world but have really found my place here at The Soup Kitchen. I love the challenge of cooking with the amazing ingredients City Harvest brings each week, devising interesting, nutritious and tasty food using donated and surplus ingredients. I especially love the random ones - 15kg of cranberry sauce anyone?!
I love cooking, but the real kick comes from feeding people. Serving someone a delicious hot meal, knowing it might have been the first one in a while. It’s important to me that the food is prepared with just much care and love as if it were for any of my previous high-end clients.
City Harvest is an incredible charity. I really admire you guys because you are not only saving surplus food from being wasted, but enabling people like me to offer food made with amazing fresh ingredients that are perhaps out of reach for a lot people and I’m passionate about making good food accessible to EVERYONE!"
About The Soup Kitchen London
Founded in 1986, The Soup Kitchen is a resource for the homeless, elderly, lonely and poor in Central London, providing free hot meals, clothes and toiletries. The space provided offers a sense of belonging and community for those who are in need.
In addition, we offer information about other important services for the vulnerable, including advice and referral information for other agencies focusing on different aspects of homelessness. We seek to provide assistance in a variety of ways, including help with letters and phone calls, liaising with social services, and encouragement and moral support.
Tottenham Court Rd, London.