Food poverty: Community meals planned at Finchley Road

A Feast With Us Christmas meal

A Feast With Us Christmas meal - Credit: Julia Hamilton

A north London charity is to host community meals in Hampstead for people experiencing food poverty.

Feast With Us will organise communal dining sessions from February at JW3, a Jewish community centre in Finchley Road.

The charity was founded in 2015 to combat malnutrition and prevent food waste in Kilburn. It has since expanded into projects in Barnet, Camden, Haringey, Islington and Southwark.

Each week, volunteers collect surplus food from local supermarkets and cook 400 meals for people facing food poverty. This includes people living in temporary council-owned accommodation and children without access to free school meals during the holidays.

Feast With Us chef Aistis Palenskis

Feast With Us chef Aistis Palenskis - Credit: Charissa Cheong

Partners coordinator of Feast With Us Lily McSweeney said: “In London, you see areas with high levels of wealth existing right beside areas of food insecurity.

“For us, seeing the need for food in these areas has shed a massive light on the extent of people living below the poverty line and in the shadows.”

Feast With Us has organised communal dining sessions since 2015 as an opportunity for deprived people to sit down and share a free meal once a week. Guests can assist with the cooking to learn more about nutrition.

A Feast With Us meal box

A Feast With Us meal box - Credit: Charissa Cheong

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When the pandemic hit, the charity saw a 300% increase in demand and had to provide meals through home delivery instead.

The charity, made up of eight staff members and 160 volunteers, delivered around 50 meals a day to people struggling to access food, including elderly residents who were unable to leave the house.

Last year, Feast With Us started a programme of structured workshops in Greenwich for young people in temporary accommodation to earn an AQA accredited course in food hygiene, helping them to move on to independent living or to find a job in hospitality. The charity plans to expand the programme to all its sites across 2022.

Feast With Us pasties

Feast With Us pasties - Credit: Lily McSweeney

The relaunch of communal dining sessions will begin in February with a meal hosted in partnership with children’s charity Jump.

People who found refuge in the UK as unaccompanied minors will volunteer to prepare the meal which will be served at the JW3.

The meal is open to all and anyone who would benefit from it can register at www.feastwithus.org.uk and details on the date of the first meal will be released on the website closer to the time.

To enquire about volunteering with Feast With Us, email volunteer@feastwithus.org.uk

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There With You This Winter - Credit: Archant