I am writing this letter to share some bad news with you, among all the reopenings and vaccinations. The unavoidable truth is that many of our fellow Londoners are facing catastrophe and hunger when the current Covid crisis ends.
One in eight children has experienced food insecurity since Christmas, according to the Food Foundation. Many people will not be celebrating in the terraces of restaurants and bars. Instead they are haunted by the spectres of unemployment, debt and poor health.
Last year with the support of readers, we raised £10 million to allow our charity partner, The Felix Project, to distribute food for an astounding 88,000 meals per day: four times more than the year before. Yet the latest research suggests that it will have to scale up output yet again to meet London’s need. The destitution and desperation caused by the pandemic will not simply disappear with a vaccine.
So now, we aim to support the charity to achieve the ultimate objective: the end of food poverty in London. This legacy will begin with the founding of the largest social kitchen in central London, based in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived areas in Europe.
Rather than serving just one community, this kitchen will prepare up to 6,000 nutritious hot meals per day for delivery around the city, with the expertise of food delivery firm Deliveroo and the distribution network of The Felix Project.
There are two further reasons why we decided to support The Felix Project in opening this mega kitchen.
First, it will recruit and train skilled workers in the Tower Hamlets community.
And second, it will use food that would otherwise have gone to waste, either because producers can’t sell it or because charities often struggle to accept large quantities of ingredients, often with short sell-by dates.
At this time of immense crisis and silent suffering, the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund is donating £1 million to equip and prepare the kitchen for its opening later this year.
One of the lessons we should take from this crisis is the value of collective action and community spirit.
This kitchen will be an essential weapon in our battle to end food poverty for good in London. Together, let’s get this done.
Evening Standard proprietor