London's Hunger Pain
While new COVID infections in London for the moment have declined, the after effects of the earlier surge will be longstanding. Even as the medical crisis subsides, hunger is just beginning. The economic fallout from this crisis is already severe, and the ongoing social distancing imperative will limit economic activity for a long time to come.
City Harvest’s vision is for London to be a sustainable city, where all people have access to fresh, nourishing food and no unused food is wasted. But for now, even after 6 years of operation, City Harvest is still at the beginning of supporting this city’s most vulnerable.
Our neighbours are now lining up for food aid in ways that are reminiscent of Victorian times. In response, City Harvest has more than doubled the number of meals which we deliver and is setting in place the infrastructure to operate at or above this elevated level in the future.
9.2 million meals were missed monthly because of food poverty in London
13.4 million meals were wasted monthly by businesses
City Harvest Delivers
In the first 6 weeks of lockdown
City Harvest rescued 1 million meals
In the first 9 weeks of lockdown
City Harvest rescued 1.46 million meals
City Harvest launched with one van, run by a small group of people focused on rescuing surplus food and a driver who used to be homeless. Our operation has now grown to 14 vans, 3 depots and we recently reached 10 million meals rescued!
Food poverty in London has sadly skyrocketed and in light of the looming redundancies and hardship, this situation will continue to worsen.
"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."
Lauren, Soup Kitchen London
City Harvest’s CEO, Laura Winningham,
“Partnerships with London landmarks, such as The Savoy, The Portman Estate, Selfridges and Wimbledon Tennis Club, Fulham FC, Crystal Palace FC, Annabel's are providing us with much needed food and support for those in need.
Food is becoming a luxury to so many and our vans symbols of hope,”
London children 16 and under
In 2019, the Greater London Authority estimated that: 400,000 children in London aged 16 or under faced food insecurity. Of these, only 196,000 are on free school meals, therefore qualify for the Government food voucher scheme during the pandemic, meaning at least 200,000 may go hungry. We work with Mayor's Fund for London delivering food to their #KitchenSocial projects which feed children who would otherwise not eat.
Initially many of or charities closed while they worked out how to reach their recipients in a safe way. We are now back to 300 charities on our routes with a waiting list of people who we can hopefully reach as we expand.
"One of our recipients is a heavily pregnant, single young woman, with an underlying health condition. She has been unable to leave her 3rd floor flat for sometime and has no support network. We have been her lifeline."
How Can You Help?
For every £1 donated we can deliver 4 meals - every penny really does count.
Food is delivered free of charge. To onboard with us we require up to date food safety certification, this is to ensure food is kept in the chill chain and is prepared hygienically for recipients. If people call us for individual donations, we direct them to their nearest food bank or community group. Delivering food for free allows charity groups to use any money they have for services like counselling, activities and medical services.
Access to Food
There have been fluctuating levels of surplus food throughout lockdown, and we are always looking for new and varied partnerships to ensure we are not reliant on one main supplier. Fresh food, particularly vegetables, were hard to access for a short period. Our groups relish fresh ingredients as it allows them to cook healthy nutritious food for their recipients. The pandemic has highlighted to many, how for many people, the one meal they received at the community group will be all they eat for that day - or even a couple of days.
With schools being closed and new people facing food poverty the level of demand has increased and the hospitality industry has seen first-hand how their cooking of fresh food is literally a lifeline for so many Londoners.
Michael Weber, Director of Food at Selfridges, said, “We are full of admiration for the work City Harvest is doing to supply food to vulnerable groups across London during this uncertain time. We’re proud to have worked with them to donate food from our Oxford Street Foodhall to go towards making up food parcels for those in need. Supporting charities in their heroic efforts to help our communities are hugely important to us and we applaud the team at City Harvest for their hard work and commitment to the cause.”
The Portman Estate’s Secretary and Director of Corporate, Katie Balderson, said: “We could not be prouder to be supporting this hugely important cause. City Harvest’s work throughout London is imperative, especially during these difficult times where we must ensure that those in need are supported. It is a time for the community to come together, to become more united. We hope that our long-term partnership with City Harvest does not only help our own community but those at risk of hunger throughout the city.”
Vans are still rolling, the City Harvest team is still smiling, but now it needs the country’s help to support those who need it most.
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