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Free food for all at Highway House, no questions asked

We are big believers in the power of food to bring communities together. So with Tottenham severely hit by Covid unemployment and food poverty, we set up a free, weekly meal hub at Highway House.

January 22, 2021

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals covered in this Case Study:

Zero Hunger (2):
An estimated 2 billion people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food in 2019. In Haringey 7,500 children were receiving free school meals prior to Covid 19. This is 1 in 5 children in the borough.

Reduced Inequalities (10):
COVID-19 has deepened existing inequalities, hitting the poorest and most vulnerable communities the hardest. It has put a spotlight on economic inequalities and fragile social safety nets that leave vulnerable communities to bear the brunt of the crisis. Tottenham is the second highest number for any parliamentary constituency of workers furloughed. Haringey has the highest furlough rate of employed residents in Central London at 28%.

Find out more about the UN Sustainable Development Goals

 

We are big believers in the power of food to bring communities together.

So with Tottenham severely hit by Covid unemployment and food poverty, we set up a free, weekly meal hub at Highway House.

We’ve supported Highway House homeless shelter with food for two years. But in June 2020 we scaled up – responding to a growing need to feed not just the homeless, but the wider neighbourhood. We made more meals, and expanded our team to hand them out every Thursday.

Over summer awareness grew. We fed more people, with more meals – adding hot drinks, fresh produce and snacks – and more volunteers each week!

“There’s a great local spirit. Within weeks we welcomed a regular group of visitors – for good food and a chat. It’s wonderful to see the communal spirit – people taking a meal for neighbours or local workers. Or taking a whole load for their entire street or community group!”

Alex Fox, Edible London Facilitator

When food demand increased above our receiving capacity, we decided to bring in our cooking partners onsite and create an experience for our community regulars. Jax from Island Flavours joined to cook nutritious vegan Carribean recipes. With the smells and the noise of cooking live, it created a buzz and excitement in the growing community and amongst our volunteers.

After this huge success, we are on the lookout for more cooking partners: our friends at Hopeville have collaborated with us and we hope for many more partners in the future.

As the Highway House project has grown, our volunteers have become ever more passionate and committed to coming every Thursday to help out, taking on responsibilities, and organising logistics and volunteering schedules. We have seen how this has become a great platform for individuals to grow their skills and feel a deeper sense of connection to our community. We are so proud of what everyone has achieved, and the community that has formed through cooking and sharing food.

“Highway House is more than just a food hub. It is a family, a community and it gives people a chance to connect in a socially distanced way. I think that’s really important, to connect with people. I feel like people need it more than ever right now. It was lovely to hear people call us like their community angels. Highway House has had such a positive effect on our community, we must keep it going!”

Ayesha Munro, Edible London Facilitator

Edible London – Highway House Community Giving – Ayesha distributing food to people in front of Nana Suzie’s Cafe – Now Deli Co.

Highway House started with 200 meals given out on the first Thursday to rise to nearly 600 meals a week in a matter of months – showing the high demand, but also the community spirit of volunteers and visitors to come together in a time of crisis.

Over time we’ve met a diverse range of individuals: some who have recently been made redundant, others have been struggling to survive for a long time and some elders living alone have appreciated the social interaction. What is important to us is the message that everyone is welcome, regardless of social situation and background. This is what allows our community to feel togetherness and a connection to one another.

“There need to be more projects just like Highway House Thursdays. It’s unfortunate that community organisations have needed to fill in for a service it should never have to fill, but that is our current reality.”

Alex Fox, Edible London Facilitator

This project would not have been successful without the amazing Highway House as our partners. They have provided us with ongoing support, and a space to use every week to enable a safe service with social distancing and protocols. Special thanks go to the Highway House crew, in particular Samy and Reverand Alex for the support and dedication to making this project possible.

Edible London – Highway House Community Giving – Sunny and Sammy carrying a crate loaded of food.

The Highway House free meals project has strengthened each week, and we hope that it will be able to continue and grow in the future ahead.

If you would like to get involved:

If you would like to benefit from this event:

  • Visit and taste a meal at Highway House on Thursdays between 12-4 pm at Unit 8, 2-8 Fountayne Road, London, N15 4QL

 

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