50 tonnes of food provided to Lewisham’s most vulnerable residents redistributed through a Lewisham food hub
How collaborations in times of crisis sowed the seeds to grow a thriving Community Food Hub for Lewisham
As part of Lewisham’s Coordinated Covid-19 Response, GCDA and Lewisham Local set up a surplus food hub at The Green Man, a community space owned by Phoenix Community Housing, for the borough to redistribute free surplus food from the charity Fareshare. The aim of the hub was to enable food projects across Lewisham to access surplus food to support those in need of emergency food aid in their local communities.
Phoenix Community Housing and their repairs services, Phoenix Repairs Service (PRS), were keen to support the crisis response, knowing that so many of their residents were affected by Covid-19 to ensure they were supported during these challenging times. They arranged for their community building, the Barn at The Green Man site to be available and for two of the repairs team to help with deliveries.
Jim Ripley, CEO of Phoenix Community Housing said: “The past several months have had an impact on our local community, so we’re proud to be part of a thriving food hub that can support people through these challenging times.
“Phoenix is about building a better future for its community and we will continue to do that by supporting more local projects in the future.”
Livia La Camera, Community Development Dietician at GCDA who oversaw the project at GCDA said ‘Both Phoenix Community Housing and PRS have been amazing to work with. They saw the need and value of this project and did everything possible to ensure its success. Thousands of people have been able to access emergency food aid during the Covid-19 thanks to their support’.
This week, Lewisham Local and GCDA marked a significant milestone that saw 50 tonnes of food redistributed via Fareshare, helping 1500 people every week at the height of the coronavirus crisis via 12 local food projects.
One of the projects who benefitted from the food hub is Catford Soup Kitchen, just down the road from The Green Man, who saw their weekly visitor numbers grow from 50 to 150 plus during the pandemic.
Kim Powell, Community Outreach Manager at UCKG Help Centre who runs the Catford Soup Kitchen said, ‘The help we have received from the food hub at Phoenix’s ‘Barn’ has been so valuable as we have been working hard in the borough to deal with food poverty which has increased due to COVID-19 and austerity. The van drivers have been kind, cheerful and always willing to help. Through this support we have helped over 2400 people. Which are families, homeless, low wage, unemployed and cases of domestic violence. Thank you, Phoenix’.
Another longstanding food bank in Lewisham who doubled their distribution during lockdown was the LWCC Food Service. Christine Brown a leader at the project commented ‘On behalf of the leadership of Living Waters Christian Centre Food Service, the volunteers and customers I would like to say a big thank you to the Phoenix Repairs Service delivery drivers who have been delivering food to us throughout the pandemic period. Without their sacrificial help and selfless commitment we would not have been able to help so many people during this difficult time. Thank you very much’.
The Community Food Hub at The Green Man demonstrated the value of a more coordinated approach to surplus food distribution, particularly given the increase in demand for food aid. Responding to this need, Lewisham Local applied for London Community Response Wave 3 Funding to work with GCDA to develop a Community Food Hub for Lewisham, while
developing a network of community food projects.
Lewisham Local also identified Ewart Community Hall as a partner to build a legacy for the work started at The Barn. Since October, Fareshare now delivers one van full of food to Ewart Hall, alongside two deliveries to The Barn on a different day.
‘Ewart Community Hall is a great venue for a Community Food Hub’ says Livia La Camera, ‘Being a Cooperative, means their values fit nicely with our ethos and vision for the food hub, and there’s potential to link our wider healthy eating and physical activity programme, Be Inpired.’ Be Inspired offers free cookery classes, food growing groups, and training to local residents and groups around Lewisham alongside Healthy Walks.
The location of Ewart Hall is great too, as Simone who facilitates the Covid Food Network at Lewisham Local explains, ‘Being close to Lewisham Foodbank means there’s the potential to connect local food banks and their clients to activities and support available at the Hall, to help people move beyond emergency food aid where possible.’ She adds, ‘We’ve already
seen how food projects have shared their surplus food, information and resources since starting the Covid Food Network back in March. Developing a Community Food Hub for Lewisham will increase this collaborative approach, to help us all work through the difficult winter months ahead as demand for emergency food provision is expected to rise.’
Lewisham Local, GCDA and all the partners supported by the Hub would like to thank Fareshare, Phoenix Repairs Service and Phoenix Community Housing as well as their newest partner Ewart Community Hall for their outstanding support and collaboration on this project during the crisis.
If you have ambient or fresh fruit or veg you would like to donate to a local foodbank, you can drop off between 9-11am every Fridays at Ewart Community Hall, 44 Wastdale Rd, Forest Hill, London SE23 1AR. If you would like to find out about other activities taking place at Ewart Community Hall please visit their website.
You can find more information about GCDA’s work, including their Be Inspired programme on their website.
If you would like more information about the Lewisham Covid Food Network please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and if you would like more information about the Surplus food hubs please contact email@example.com
You can watch a video about the Food Hub at the Green Man recorded in July here.