Help a Hungry Child: A huge thank you to our readers as appeal raises more than £1m

£1,049,896 has been donated since the campaign launched on 27 November, one of the most successful efforts in this paper's history

Eleanor Rose
Friday 12 January 2018 18:12
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Effort: Hannah Richards, front, and other Team Felix members in Hyde Park in training for the Big Half
Effort: Hannah Richards, front, and other Team Felix members in Hyde Park in training for the Big Half

The Independent’s charity appeal reached the finish line today with more than £1 million donated — and the launch of Team Felix to raise even more funds for London’s hungry children when it competes in the capital’s first-ever official half-marathon.

The phenomenal total — donated with the help of you, our readers — means that thousands of primary school pupils across London will not go to bed hungry as they are provided with tasty and nutritious free food.

In total, £1,049,896 has been donated since the Help a Hungry Child appeal launched on 27 November. It makes the campaign one of the newspaper’s most successful ever, and it has gained the backing of figures including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat chief Sir Vince Cable.

Hailing the result, Felix Project chief executive Hilary Croft said: “I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of Evening Standard readers and other supporters who have donated to us. What we do is incredibly simple but we can’t do it alone. The money that we have received will enable us to extend our work into schools and help thousands of London children have a better start in life because they are less hungry.”

A team of 56 runners will raise more money for the charity on March 4 when they take on the 13.1-mile long Big Half through central London.

The first team members, including staff and volunteers from Felix and journalists from the Standard, were put through a gruelling training session yesterday. Standard readers will join the team and the newspaper will follow their efforts and support them in the challenge in the weeks to come.

As he met up with his new teammates Edward Sants, 27, an executive assistant for TSB and volunteer for Felix, said he hoped to raise more than £12,000.

“Very rarely do I find a charity doing such decent, useful work,” he said. He is looking forward to getting to know the team members, he added.

“When I ran the London Marathon last year, it was just me. This time there are more than 50 of us and I’m looking forward to the community feel.” Another team member, Hannah Richards, 37, said: “Food wastage is something we can fix and get that food to the people who need it.”

The Felix Project, based in west London, was founded in 2016 by Standard chairman Justin Byam Shaw and his wife Jane in memory of their son Felix. All funds raised by our Christmas Appeal and now by Team Felix will be spent on the charity’s scheme to set up market stalls stocked with fresh, free food at 120 primary schools across London to tackle hunger among disadvantaged children.

As well as readers, corporations gave generously, with big contributions from Millennium Global Investments, Nex and Goldman Sachs, among many others. Support came from famous names including model Daisy Lowe, fashion designer Henry Holland, actor Jon Hamm of Mad Men and David Morrissey, star of The Walking Dead.

We've been overwhelmed by your generosity...thank you

Justin Byam Shaw, founder of The Felix Project

 

Thank you for the amazing generosity you have shown in embracing the Standard’s Christmas Appeal to fund The Felix Project and our new plan to get fresh, surplus food to primary school children in some of the most deprived areas of the city.

The Standard raised over £7 million for the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy just a few months ago, so I had thought there might be a limit to your generosity. I was wrong.

Even when you know that what you are doing makes obvious sense, you can’t be sure how strongly people will respond. But we have been overwhelmed. You sent us money by post, text, phone and online. Some of you even turned up at our depot with cash and your Christmas surplus. Others volunteered to collect and deliver food for us.

Ellie Goulding performed at the launch event in St James’s Piccadilly, organised by the Quintessentially Foundation, as did Stephen Fry. Rita Ora endorsed us from New York. Sir Ian McKellen, Charlotte Hope, Judge Rinder, Greg Rutherford, Frank Lampard, Tokio Myers and many others took calls on our Telethon day.

The food industry joined in. Nearly 400 restaurants, orchestrated by StreetSmart, put a £1 donation on their bills during December. Sainsbury’s stuck a huge fridge in Paddington station and asked commuters to give us their spare food. Paul, Daylesford and Waitrose raised funds from customers. Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Fortnum & Mason, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Richard Caring and Charlie Mash sent us cheques.

The City supported London, as it usually does. And so did Environment Secretary Michael Gove, with a new Food Waste Reduction Fund he has set up in response to the Standard Appeal. 

By way of a thank you we sent these supporters a small pot of manuka honey, taken from a much larger batch destined for landfill until it was sent to us by the ever-generous Daylesford. But why was the honey donated? It had passed its Best Before date, so the retailer had no choice.

If you followed the story about the pots of 3,000-year-old honey found in an Egyptian tomb still perfectly edible, you will appreciate one absurdity of our position.

I can’t claim any credit for the idea of doing something about food poverty by addressing the extraordinary level of waste. Others were already doing a brilliant job here but we are all still scarcely making a dent in the food surplus mountain in Britain.

It is this crazy mismatch in supply (223,000 tonnes of edible food going to landfill or anaerobic digestion plants) and demand (70,000 London children going to school hungry and 500,000 Londoners living in real poverty) that caused us to start The Felix Project in 2016. There is more than enough food to go round. It just doesn’t reach the right people.

Now let’s hope the Government soon recognises that, for a relatively small incentive to cover the additional costs, an estimated 100,000 additional tonnes of food each year could reach those who really need it.

Good food, currently ending up in a hole in the ground, spread on crops or burned, could instead be eaten by some of the UK’s most vulnerable people, while saving the charities on which they rely hundreds of millions of pounds.

 

Money raised by the Evening Standard & Independent Help a Hungry Child Appeal will be spent on ensuring no child in any primary school supported by the Felix Project goes to bed hungry.

The funds will be used to establish “market stalls” at schools across London, where children and their parents or guardians can fill a Felix bag full of healthy and delicious food. The charity will source, sort and store produce.

Each stall costs £500 to set up and must then be supported on an ongoing basis. A Felix van will deliver once a week to each school, with crates full of surplus fruit and veg, baked goods and dairy items. Just £1 provides enough food for a primary school child and their family to enjoy a nutritious meal.

The Felix Project will also train teachers so they can describe the benefits of the stalls to pupils and other staff, and the effect it will have on the whole school. Meanwhile Felix Project workers will coordinate the programme across London.

Within two years the charity hopes to have stalls at 120 sites, benefiting more than 60,000 children and their families.

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