One of the UK’s leading rappers visited The Independent’s social kitchen to help produce the extra meals that are being distributed to help combat food poverty this Christmas.
Stefflon Don, who won a Mobo award in 2017 for Best Female Act, applauded the “amazing” work being done at the kitchen, which is run by the Felix Project and was enabled by the donations of The Independent and Evening Standard readers in our Help the Hungry appeal.
The site in Tower Hamlets now cooks and distributes 125,000 hot meals a month for vulnerable people and families in the capital.
This Christmas it is feared as many as one in three Londoners will consider resorting to a food bank to feed themselves and their families, making the work done at the kitchen more important than ever.
As part of its efforts to alleviate the problem, the Felix Project has pledged to seek to provide free school meals to local authorities across Tower Hamlets and Newham throughout the winter period.
During her visit, Don helped the chefs by chopping up vegetables as they made the day’s meals. At one point her new song “Dip”, featuring Ms Banks, came on the radio, resulting in her breaking into an impromptu performance.
The rapper, who grew up in Hackney, congratulated the chefs and volunteers at the kitchen for their hard work and said it was amazing to see for herself the amount of food being prepared and distributed to those who needed it.
“I was a young mum so I understand how tough it can be for many families, especially at Christmas,” she said “It’s good to give back. You would want someone to help you.”
The kitchen has 12 professional kitchen staff and 50 volunteers working daily to cook and deliver the meals. Its creation and operation was financed by The Independent and Evening Standard’s Help the Hungry campaign which ran last year in partnership with the Felix Project.
The Felix Project’s founder Justin Byam Shaw thanked her for taking the time to visit the site.
“Stefflon Don was a single mum at 17, dealing with Christmas on her own,” he said. “She’s been there and now she is helping Felix help other Londoners who are struggling this Christmas”.
Leon Aarts, who runs the kitchen, said: ‘’The need for food in London is as high as it was during the lockdowns. It’s incredible to think that through Felix’s Kitchen we can give thousands of Londoners a healthy and delicious meal every day.’’
The rapper’s visit occurred as the Big Give charity warned that the capital faced a “difficult winter” due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic and rising living costs. It revealed that it had found a third of the city’s residents are considering whether to use a food bank this Christmas.
The Trussell Trust, an NGO and charity, said it had already found food parcels are increasing by 11 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.
A spokesperson from the charity said: ‘Christmas is going to be really awful for lots of families in London. It’s about far more than presents. It’s going to be about the choice between putting the heating on and putting food on the table. It’s going to be that severe for thousands of families this winter’.