A tower of gleaming cucumbers looms over the entrance to The Felix Project’s depot in West London. Teetering close by are piles of onions, aubergine and fennel and a little further, crates are loaded with a shock of orange pumpkins.
It would be easy to picture this bounty of produce on display at a farmers’ market, or lining the shelves of an organic supermarket. Instead, this is a creative antidote to London’s food waste epidemic.
Every item of the two tonnes which fills this small warehouse would have gone straight to landfill if it hadn’t been intercepted by the food waste charity. Now, volunteers in high-vis jackets are sorting, stacking and loading heaving crates into the charity’s fleet of green vans. Soon, they will whisk the two tonnes of food straight back out to be delivered to food banks, soup kitchens and refuges across the capital.
At least 500,000 children across the UK are going to school hungry each day because their parents cannot afford to feed them. Yet more than 10 million tonnes of food was thrown away in 2016.
That’s why for this year’s Christmas campaign, The Independent is partnering with The Felix Project to ensure no child goes without while there is food available.
Money raised will go towards helping the charity deliver fresh, nutritious produce collected from more than 90 suppliers, directly to disadvantaged schoolchildren and their families.
Mother-of-three Tara told The Independent she is often forced to send her eight-year-old daughter, Emma, to school without breakfast when money doesn’t stretch far enough.
“Money is tight so sometimes that does happen. She says: ‘Mummy I’m tired, I can’t do my work’,” she said. “Often I will go without anything so they at least get something to eat.”
The charity will set up market stalls, loaded with fruit, vegetables and bread, in 120 of London’s most deprived schools over the next two years – including Emma’s school in Ealing, Stanhope Primary. The programme will also extend beyond London into other regions of the country.
Crucially, all parents and children will be encouraged to drop in and help themselves to the produce, removing the stigma of singling out specific families in need.
The charity’s aim is not just to support these young families, but to break down the barriers to accessing nutritious food.
Pat Caplan, poverty expert from Goldsmiths University, said food is often the most “elastic” part of a household budget and where people end up making the biggest sacrifices.
“Many people go without food altogether or they buy less or inferior quality food, which many of them know is inferior but they will buy the cheapest,” she said.
This is something Emma’s mum Tara knows all too well. “We eat a lot of pasta because it’s cheap and sometimes microwave meals but if fruit and vegetables are there, then we would definitely cook with them,” she said.
“Healthwise I think The Felix Project stall will really help all of us. I hope it will also encourage my kids to enjoy fruit and vegetables.”
Deliveries to two London schools will start on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 November, and with the public's help the campaign is expected to reach 50,000 children and their families within two years.
Every £1 donated will guarantee a primary school child and their family the food needed for a nutritious meal. £500 will allow a new school to be recruited to the programme.
Here are the ways you can donate to our Christmas appeal:
Call – Freephone – 08000 639 281
Text – FELIX £5 to 70700
Post – Freepost – HELP A HUNGRY CHILD
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