Help the Hungry: Faith groups come together to help huge emergency food operation

Religious communities ‘working together for the greater good,’ says Hindu leader

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 10 June 2020 11:33
Comments
Help the Hungry: Olivia Colman visits The Felix Project

Faith groups across the UK may have been forced to closed their doors to worshippers – but they have been hard at work providing food for people struggling to get enough to eat during the coronavirus crisis.

Using produce from The Felix Project, The Independent’s Help The Hungry campaign partner, religious leaders and volunteers at churches, mosques, temples and synagogues have played a key role in the emergency food operation.

Volunteers at the Shree Jalaram Mandir and Community Centre Greenford – a Hindu temple in Ealing – have been delivering around 2,500 meals a day to NHS staff, care homes and hostels for homeless people across London’s northwest suburbs.

Prior to the crisis, the temple fed hundreds of rough sleepers three evenings a week at locations in central London. But a drop-off in older volunteers meant the food aid operation had to switch gears.

“We adjusted so we can still make a difference to people going through a tough time,” said trustee Mansukh Morjaria. “We want to help as many as we possibly can. Our ethos is to feed people from all backgrounds – and it means people of all backgrounds working together for the greater good.”

Mr Morjaria, who picks up around 50 crates of produce from the food surplus charity twice a week, added: “We’re so grateful to The Felix Project – we depend up on them, and the supply of food has been a lifesaver for a lot of people.”

The Harvest Church in Wembley is another of almost 300 charities, food banks and local projects across London that The Felix Project is currently supplying with fresh fruit, vegetables and non-perishable produce it rescues from restaurants, retailers and wholesalers.

The evangelical church was forced to close its food bank because of an initial drop-off in older volunteers. The remaining team adapted by dropping off food packages at the homes of dozens of people in the local area, and putting together meals for around 100 people at a south London homeless shelter in need of regular food.

Jay Peshavaria, a volunteer from the Shree Jalaram Mandir and Community Centre Greenford, picks up food from the The Felix Project

“The deliveries have been really important to people,” said coordinator Hilda Darko. “We have been in touch with families struggling to get to supermarkets because they’re self-isolating or having serious money problems.”

She added: “The extra need will be there for a while to come so we’ll trying to help everyone we can. The idea of helping your neighbour is part of our mission.”

In Manchester, the Myriad Foundation has continued to provide free hot meals for homeless people in Piccadilly Gardens in the city centre. The group of Muslim volunteers feeds between 50 and 60 people at the “soup and smiles” project on a Wednesday evening – while carefully observing social distancing rules.

“We decided to carry on doing the work because there are people still sleeping rough,” said project leader Adeel Mahmood. “Some others are still struggling to get food, even if they’re in hostels or put up in hotels temporarily. These are some of the most vulnerable in society, so it’s important to carry on meeting the need.”

A volunteer with the The Myriad Foundation feeds homeless people in central Manchester during the coronavirus crisis

The Myriad Foundation has also responded to the crisis by getting food packages out to around 170 vulnerable people on a near-daily basis – including many in dire financial hardship because of job losses and struggles to access universal credit quickly.

“We had an individual contact us who hadn’t eaten for two days,” said Mr Mahmood. “Things can get desperate quite quickly. From an Islamic perspective, there’s a big emphasis on giving to the whole community. So anyone who gets in touch, we will try to help them.”

The Midland Langar Seva Society (MLSS), a Birmingham-based Sikh charity, has been delivering food packages filled with £30 worth of groceries to hundreds of people each week who are self-isolating or struggling financially.

It has also been delivering lunches to several hospitals across the Midlands three or four times a week, and offering hot meals to around 200 people in central Birmingham every evening, seven days a week.

“The reaction from local restaurants and supermarkets and members of the public helping supply us with food has been amazing,” said coordinator Randhir Singh Heer.

“Our principle is to serve the whole community with compassion. Giving is part of our faith, but it’s part of every faith. Our volunteers come from all walk of life, and they’re giving back to people from all walks of life at a difficult time.”

The Independent is encouraging readers to help groups that are trying to feed the hungry across the country – find out how you can help here. Follow this link to donate to our campaign in London, in partnership with the Evening Standard.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in