A Camden organisation has helped a London food redistribution charity to celebrate a milestone achievement in feeding people going hungry in the capital.
Castle Haven went to Felix’s Kitchen, which is part of The Felix Project, to help them celebrate making and distributing their one millionth meals for those in need. The meals go to those who cannot cook easily at home or organisations who want to provide hot food onsite but may not have the right facilities.
The kitchen opened in July 2021, the initial aim was to produce 100,000 meals to feed local families and children throughout the summer holidays, the work has not stopped since. The chefs take surplus 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 explains: “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 severely 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 sky rocketing, so it’s crucial we get more funding to ensure the next million meals can go out to those we support.”
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 Castle Haven in Camden. They provide a variety of community activities and opportunities for people of all ages, cultures, abilities and backgrounds. In June 2020, as a result of the pandemic, the organisation started a food bank which has helped over 5,000 local people.
Tricia Richards is the charity’s CEO, she said: “We’ve been accepting Felix food since June 2020, without it the food bank wouldn’t be running. We’ve been provided fresh food, and tinned food and we’ve fed about 190 families since then. If we didn’t have The Felix Project, we’d have to find a way of replacing that and that would come at an immense cost. We’re also being affected by the cost of living, petrol prices, rising food prices and so we welcome Felix’s support.”
The organisation has also received over 2,700 Felix meals. Nura is a recipient and said: “I come from a low-income family of 10 and could use support in these difficult times. Food from Felix has helped me feed my 6 children - it helps them learn and perform better at school. We’re grateful for all the crucial support from Felix.”
The kitchen produces an average of 3,000 meals a day 6 days a week. 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 is Head of the kitchen, he says: “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. 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.”