Feeding the Community during Lockdown

Author: Tom Tanner
Photo Credit: @Lana de Meillon Malard from @CatfordFridge

Faced with a mountain of potential food waste and an unspecified period of furlough, one Food Made Good member is feeding the community

It’s less than seven miles from the Lewisham Irish Centre to OXO Tower Restaurant Brasserie and Bar, but the two places are worlds apart. Connecting them and the Irish Centre to its members during lockdown is a former Food Made Good Champion.

Faced with a mountain of food to shift when the doors of the Thameside restaurant closed in March, Andrea Zick, PA to the GM, used the major distribution charities for the bulk of the food. With plenty still left Andrea contacted the Catford Fridge – set up as part of the Hubbub community fridge network. They gratefully accepted the free food and, when Andrea revealed she had experience as a chef, the charity found a use for her skills.

Delighted to volunteer while furloughed, Andrea now cooks more than 40 plant-based meals once a week in the kitchen of the Irish Centre, using food provided by the local Good Hope Café and equipment from FoodCycle. The Lewisham Irish
Community Centre (LICC) secured NCDP funding (Neighbourhood Community Development Partnerships) to run the project as they regularly support 200 people weekly through our advice and befriending projects and those in
receipt of meals are LICC service users .The final essential cog in the system is a troop of volunteer cyclists known as WheelsofWellness who have all been DBS checked and are programmed to arrive at five minute intervals.

“This is my light at the end of the tunnel, the thing that keeps me going. At least I now have something that makes a difference, as sitting at home with nothing to do was never something I intended,” says Andrea.

“It’s one of those unplanned but successful initiatives these days. Based on a number of organisations coming together and shows that the values of the SRA can unite even these days.”

There is potential to provide twice the number of meals for vulnerable people in the community, but Andrea would need another chef to work a shift adjacent to hers, on a Wednesday.

From a commitment to prevent food from going to waste, Andrea’s created a purpose for herself during the crisis, is feeding dozens of vulnerable people and creating what she believes is a model for the future.

“I believe that unfortunately the community aspect of what we do as restaurants is going to be increasingly important as people’s needs increase over the coming months,” she adds.

Do contact [email protected] if you are a chef who lives in South East London and would like to support the work Andrea is doing at the Lewisham Irish Centre.

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