Paloma Faith and vegan pizza: how one food charity is helping struggling Hackney families

Sarah Bentley delivering pizzas to families in Hackney. Pic: Made in Hackney

Hundreds of Hackney children who have been denied their free school lunches during lockdown have been receiving healthy meals – including vegan pizzas – from a community cookery school which has now been backed by singer Paloma Faith.

The pizzas have been among more than 70,000 healthy meals that Made in Hackney have delivered to families in the borough since last March but the charity have now needed further support.

Million Dollar Vegan, an NGO supported by Hackney-based singer Paloma Faith, has now stepped into to help Made in Hackney with additional funds to continue its community efforts. With Million Dollar Vegan behind them, Made in Hackney have been able to provide another 2,000 meals, which has kept the charity going for another two weeks.

Faith said: “The pandemic has changed all our lives and reaching out to support those left vulnerable is a wonderful act of kindness by Million Dollar Vegan and Made in Hackney. I’m delighted to support their program to provide delicious plant-based meals to those who need them most in east London. It’s a beautiful act of love – and doesn’t the world need a bit more of that?”

Sarah Bentley, who runs Made in Hackney, said: “By providing nutritious food to families free of charge, we can ensure that children receive a meal, regardless of where they live or their economic background. Our recipes are entirely plant-based, meaning that every family can enjoy them, irrespective of dietary preferences.”

The pizzas deliveries came after Bentley was approached by Mike Hill, who runs One Planet Pizza in Norwich, with his son, Joe, when she gave a presentation at a business networking event for those interested in the plant-based sector. They discovered their businesses were “natural partners,” said Hill.

One Planet Pizza and Made in Hackney delivered 250 pizzas to struggling families in the borough. Pic: Made in Hackney/One Planet Pizza

Hill said: “I always thought that if we were going to get more people to eat less meat and dairy, that we needed to be going out into the community and doing stuff. I think one of the issues with veganism is that it’s restricted to a particular demographic: Metropolitan, young and predominantly white, as well. I think it’s really important to just get the message out into the wider community and make it fun.”

Father and son Mike and Joe Hill launched their business in 2016, with ethics at the heart of their cooking. Pic: One Planet Pizza

Later this month, the two partners will be working together once again to host online pizza-making workshops to help them recreate their pizzas.

One Planet Pizza was launched in 2016 by father and son Mike and Joe Hill, inspired by their tradition of cooking up fresh pizzas on a Saturday night. A vegan for over 35 years, Mike Hill started a vegetarian and vegan restaurant while son Joe went to university, but once he returned, they began to realise that plant-based eating was becoming more popular.

Hill senior claims their pizzas are the only ones that are a source of Omega 3 because they put chai seeds in their tomato sauce to thicken it up, with flaxseed in the base. He said: “We’ve just completed the comparison of our nutritional profile against leading dairy pizza brands, and ours has 25% less saturated fats and 40% less salt and sugar. So even though we’re not suggesting that you should eat pizzas every day, it’s possible to have a pizza that’s tastes great, while still containing significantly less fat, salt and sugar.”

You can order One Planet pizzas from their website and support the work of Made in Hackney by checking out what online cookery classes they have scheduled, or donating directly to their Crowdfunder.

This article was originally published on March 17 and updated on March 19 to include news of the support for Made in Hackney from Paloma Faith

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