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St Michael's Food Bank - Edith

City Harvest Festival 'Kindness is Powerful' Series

Edith Light – St Michael’s Church, Southfields

City Harvest has delivered 9 tonnes of food = 21k meals

Preventing 79.8 tonnes of greenhouse gases

Retail Value : £26,414

Every Wednesday Edith and her team of volunteers ran a ‘Community Lunch’ for up to 40 guests in St Michael’s Church, Southfields – a leafy suburb in South West London. The free food City Harvest delivers stretches their budget that much further to spend on other things to help their guests.

Guests come from all parts of the local community. What unites them is they each experience food insecurity.

The Community Lunch, as the name suggests, is about more than just food. For guests living alone, on the street, or in precarious living situations, it is a chance to connect with others, to access support and advice, and to feel noticed.

As one guest commented, the Community Lunch ‘makes me feel someone cares.’ Guests are signposted to access further support from agencies such as Citizens Advice to deal with problems relating to unemployment, education, homelessness, and abuse.

We all know that having someone cook for you is as much about the emotional benefit as it is the physical nourishment. Before lockdown, City Harvest would deliver healthy, raw ingredients to the kitchen at St Michael’s Church, where Edith and her volunteers would turn these ingredients into hot, cooked meals for the Community Lunch guests once a week.

When lockdown was imposed, however, this all changed. In keeping with government restrictions around social distancing, St Michael’s Church was closed and its kitchens no longer accessible, which meant Edith had to find new ways of connecting guests with healthy, cooked meals. This is where City Harvest stepped in.

Joining forces with the All England Lawn Tennis Club – the home of Wimbledon tennis – City Harvest continued to deliver food and delicious, ready-to-go meals hot meals, though now prepared and cooked by Wimbledon chefs after the All England Club opened up one of their production kitchens to provide nutritious and healthy meals to those in the local community who needed it. City Harvest then redistributed these meals to its charity partners, including the community centre at St Michael’s Church.

‘City Harvest uses surplus food to feed people – what’s not to like?’ asks Edith.

Paul, a regular guest at the Community Lunch, agrees: ‘Without places like this, so many of us wouldn’t eat healthy, hot food’.

59-year-old Paul, an engineer all his life, lost his job in 2019. Reluctant to ask his family for help, debts began mounting up and Paul turned to Universal Credit for support. Paul had just found employment when lockdown started, and he contracted coronavirus shortly after – not once but twice – which has left him with constant pain and mobility issues.

During lockdown, Edith had to find a new way to provide food. The weekly lunch enabled Edith to know more about each guests’ personal circumstances. Aware of Paul’s illness, Edith ensured food was delivered to Paul at home.

“These deliveries boosted me and made me feel less alone." comments Paul.

When he is well again, Paul intends to give back to the community that has helped him survive during lockdown.

“Places like St Michael’s are vital. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for St Michael’s, it’s good to know someone cares.”

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