The Felix Project’s social kitchen Felix’s Kitchen, which opened in July last year in Tower Hamlets, was set up as part of the Standard’s Food for London now appeal.
The chefs take surplus food ingredients from the charity’s depot next door and turn them into meals.
These are then cooked, chilled, packed into boxes and distributed across to the organisations the charity supports.
There is a huge need for the meals as Rachel Ledwith, Head of Community Engagement explained: “For the thousands of people we support this meal is so important, for many it will be the only hot meal they eat each day and shockingly for some it will be the only meal.
“We already supply over 620 community groups across London and every week more are reaching out. As the cost-of-living crisis deepens increasing numbers of people are struggling to afford to buy food and it is those on the lowest incomes who are most affected.
“We want to feed as many people and families as possible, but we are also seeing a huge impact – our production and transportation costs are going up and so it’s crucial to ensure the next million meals can go out we get more support.”
The kitchen produces an average of 3,000 meals a day 6 days a week. A team of 12 full time staff produce a daily meat and vegetarian dish. The team ensure the meals are diverse and cater to the wide variety of people they serve. The other main criteria the chefs set is that they are delicious and nutritious, with plenty of flavour.
One of the organisations who receive the meals is Black Prince Trust in Kennington that provides sporting activities and more to people living in the local area. They provide a community food project and café space to a variety of people; from those on low incomes to those living with mental health issues.
Beverly De Valmency is from the organisation and said: “We’ve worked with Felix since February and have been able to give away about 1800 meals to people in need. The demand’s increased exponentially. The meals are a catalyst for social inclusion… with the food from the Felix Project people can have a brilliant experience of coming together and enjoying a warm meal while saving food that would otherwise be wasted.”
On the busiest day the Kitchen made 4,841meals, but capacity could be higher if the charity received more surplus food and had more volunteers.
Leon Aarts, head of the kitchen, sid: “We could make 5,000 meals a day and we know the need is out there, but it is a too few volunteers and not enough surplus food that unfortunately means we are unable to operate at that level yet. Our teams are working tirelessly to source more food and volunteers. It’s vital to we get this so we can produce more meals and prevent people from genuinely being left to go hungry this winter.”
The site, which is the largest charity social kitchen created in central London, was made possible by the donations of Evening Standard readers and a £1 million donation from the Standard’s Dispossessed Fund.