Help the Hungry: Charities forced to find an extra 2.25 million meals to tackle London food poverty this winter

Covid crisis creating surge in hunger in the capital, Anna Davis reports

Tuesday 08 December 2020 16:39
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<p>The Felix Project van makes a delivery to the Concorde Youth Centre in Hackney</p>

The Felix Project van makes a delivery to the Concorde Youth Centre in Hackney

Charities must deliver an extra 2.25 million meals this winter to stop people badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic from going hungry, stark new figures show.

New research reveals the dramatic impact the virus has had on food poverty, with an extra 9 million meals needed in the capital alone over the coming year. Of those, 2.25 million meals are needed this winter.

The figures, from food redistribution charity the Felix Project, show just how vital our Christmas campaign to end food poverty is.

Mark Curtin, chief executive of the Felix Project, said: “With 2.25 million extra meals needed this winter to help those going hungry, our appeal with The Independent has never been so vital for London.”

Before Covid, charities needed to deliver 109 million meals a year to help every person going hungry in London.

Research by the Felix Project, our Christmas campaign partner, shows that figure has increased and now 118 million meals are needed each year.

It means charities have to find an extra 9 million meals each year just to help those people who are newly facing hunger.

The Felix Project is already on track to deliver 2.25 million meals this month, and 20 million meals by the end of the year. Last year the charity delivered 6.4 million meals.

By 2024, the Felix Project will have the capacity to deliver food for 100 million meals a year.

One of the ways the charity plans to boost the number of people it can help is by building a professional kitchen dedicated to making pre-prepared meals which can be delivered to people in need.

The kitchen will be a lasting legacy of our Help the Hungry campaign.

Ultimately, the plan is to produce 1.5 million meals a year in the kitchen for people who are unable to cook for themselves – the homeless, the elderly and children on free school meals who are not properly fed at home.

This will be achieved through the Felix Project’s distribution network of 600 charities and 120 schools, and alongside its core mission of collecting surplus food and delivering it to charities so they can provide it to the most vulnerable in society.

Mr Curtin said: “Launching a kitchen for London in 2021 allows the Felix Project to cook nutritious meals out of surplus food, to reach even more extremely vulnerable people who need our help.”

Our campaign has highlighted the devastating impact of hunger on families in the UK. Dr Nazanin Zand, associate professor in food science and nutrition, University of Greenwich, said: “Whatever the political view, it is most parents’ nightmare not to be able to put food on the table. There are many unintended consequences of the repeated lockdowns, not least ‘toxic stress’, caused by food poverty within family homes.”

Professor Martin Caraher, emeritus professor of Food and Health Policy at City, University of London, said: “Food poverty is an indignity and unacceptable. It is not just about the lack of food but also the feelings of shame and disempowerment, social stigma and being isolated.”

The estimate that 118 million meals will be needed each year is based on the best case scenario of a Covid vaccine arriving in early 2021. The Felix Project will reassess the situation next year and include the impact of Brexit on its forecast.

This November and December we will be delivering food directly to 1,000 people a day through our partner With Compassion. Please donate here to help us do all we can to ensure no one goes hungry this Christmas. 

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