OPENED on the first day of the summer holidays, Felix’s Kitchen in Poplar, East London will turn surplus food from Felix’s new 9,000 sq ft warehouse next door, into nutritious prepared meals, which volunteers will then deliver to charities across Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham for families in need, as well as the elderly and isolated, the homeless and people who live without the money and/or facilities to cook meals.
Felix’s Kitchen is the first of its kind operating on this scale in London – and a direct answer to the increased need the charity is seeing, caused by the COVID 19 crisis. At full capacity the 4,400 sq ft facility can produce 6,000 meals a day and the charity aims to produce 100,000 meals to feed local families and children across the summer holidays this year.
Felix Project Head of Community Engagement, Rachel Ledwith MBE, said:
“Since 2016 the Felix Project has been rescuing good, fresh surplus food from the food industry, sorting it at our warehouses and delivering it to almost 1,000 front-line charities, primary schools and holiday programmes in London. We already have warehouses in Park Royal, Enfield and Deptford and have created this new Kitchen and 9,000 sq ft Warehouse Facility in Poplar to further support those that need us in East London, which has some of the highest rates of child poverty in the UK and even in Europe.
“The approaching school holidays are a crucial time for families & we expect need will only increase in the Autumn when potential benefit cuts come into play & furlough ends. Over the last 18 months, through multiple lockdowns, Felix has demonstrated how we innovate to address and mitigate a crisis. Unfortunately, this summer we face yet another issue with 15-20% less food available to us due to the national HGV driver crisis, but we are determined to go the extra mile to source food so that we can feed families over the summer as planned. In 2020 alone we delivered the equivalent of 21.1 million meals across London in exceptional circumstances and our target this year is 38 million meals.”
The Head of Felix’s Kitchen is Dutch Chef and humanitarian, Leon Aarts said:
“I was a Top Chef and worked in the fine dining industry for a long time, before I changed course and supplied food for 1000’s of refugees in the camps in Calais. I am excited that in the new kitchen we can now turn amazing surplus food into delicious and nutritious dishes for those in London who truly need it. From children who go without a decent meal every day or others who have to choose between paying rent or buying food. No-one should go hungry and together we can achieve that.
“Felix’s Kitchen allows us to unlock even more surplus food supply – fighting food waste and hunger at the same time. The challenge sits with the Chefs – who will need to see every day what comes in, and work out how to make culturally sensitive, appetising meals with wide appeal and nutritional value.
“The kitchen will have 12 professional full time kitchen staff who will be supported by 30-50 volunteers each day, 6 days a week and 50 weeks of the year. We’re actively recruiting volunteers, please visit: www.thefelixproject.org to see how you can support us.”
Paul Jackson, Head Teacher at local Manorfield Primary School, said:
“The Felix Project have been providing a range of food to our pupils and families for a number of years, increasing this during the COVID period, and since January 2021, supporting our weekly ‘Food Pantry’. This has led to hundreds of children and families receiving healthy, nutritious food that they otherwise would not have had access to. The creation of Felix’s kitchen means that this essential support can now be extended to more children and families in the area, giving them much needed support. The creation of Felix’s kitchen is such fantastic news.”
Michelle Dornelly, founder of Hackney-based Children with Voices, said:
“We couldn’t do what we do without the Felix Project, who have supported us for the last four years. The staff and volunteers are amazing and the food we get from the Felix Project is a lifeline for so many parents. It enables us to feed the community within our five food hubs with a variety of good quality and healthy food.”