Stupendous Surplus Hub - Grace Cater, Beal Sixth Form
Everyone knows about food banks in their local area helping to tackle hunger and help families in need, but have you ever heard of a community surplus hub? That’s what 3food4u is. It is run in a different location each day around the Redbridge, London, and Epping Forest districts to ensure they can help as many people as possible. The man who runs this amazing scheme is Pesh Kapashiawara, the Chair of Trustees. He started this hub a few years ago after realising that people couldn’t get the help they needed and has managed to help in a dignified way; they now help over 1,500 families a week!
With regular food banks, you need to get a reference letter from an official organisation such as a school, GP, social worker, etc. You will also be assessed alongside your full financial history/details for them to see if you’re in need of assistance. This makes people feel as though they aren’t trusted and leads them to not ask for the help they may need. If you are considered viable for the food bank, you’re given a voucher to take there, and even then, the bank may not be open on the day you need – if for example, you get it on a Wednesday, you may need to wait for the following Monday for the bank to be open.
However, at 3food4u they do things differently; their ethos is to support and treat people with the dignity and respect they deserve. One major difference is that you don’t need any paperwork, identification, proof of income, etc – all you need to do is show up. This allows you to build a relationship full of trust and respect with the people volunteering, and those receiving food as well. Did you know you don’t even have to be in dire need to go? At 3food4u you can receive a food package no matter your financial situation – mostly because this is a community surplus hub. They get high-quality food donated to them by some of the biggest organisations in the country – not bad or off food, just surplus food that they don’t need. This not only helps people in the community but also prevents that food from going to landfills and ruining the environment. People are encouraged to come here because of this, but also to help them save money – especially in the current cost of living crisis.
Another thing that separates 3food4u from food banks is the number of other services they provide, including providing clothing, sanitary products, and support for any issues you may be facing. They have professionals present that are there to help with matters such as mental health, physical health, and job searching – these are all aspects that set this charity far above the rest (they even plan of having cooking lessons soon!). 3food4u goes above and beyond, especially during Covid when everyone was struggling. They were thankfully allowed to remain open during lockdown as they were classed as a frontline agency, and thus became a place for people to have an opportunity to socialise – whilst adhering to the latest government guidelines – helping their mental health.
Pesh and his team are constantly working around the clock to ensure they have enough food, the right food for each location, etc. When they first started a few years ago, there were no volunteers, however, there are now over 300 helping out throughout the week to aid their community. When asked what she enjoys most about volunteering at 3food4u, Jiya Gulati said it was “socialising with everyone,”, just showing how personable this long-term charity truly is. If anything, 3food4u helps raise awareness of how broken the support system in the UK is, and how good-natured the people in our communities are.