Charity seeks funding to support free meals for Hackney vulnerable

Sareta Puri, Community Meal Service head chef Pic: Jonathan Perugia

A community cookery school and charity based in Hackney has launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund their meal support service for 2022.

Made in Hackney is the UK’s first plant-based community kitchen, with a focus on health inequalities, food access and sustainability. Due to the pandemic, they suspended their cookery classes from March 2020.

As food inequality increased across the borough during the pandemic, the charity launched a community meal service providing vulnerable households with six cooked meals a week.

For months, their cycle couriers have delivered more than 500 meals a day to those in need. The charity also provided welfare calls to members of the community to offer them company and follow up on the service.

The service became a safety net for many residents who were ill, lived in temporary accommodation, didn’t have access to a kitchen, were out of work, or lived in poverty.

Launched yesterday, the charity’s ambitious crowdfunding campaign seeks to raise £150,000 to continue providing meals for Hackney’s most vulnerable households.

Volunteers delivering meals to those in need Pic: Made in Hackney

Sareta Puri, head chef for the community meal service, said in a statement: “The service may have started as an emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic, but as long as our community needs support, we’re going to keep cooking.”

“Thousands of people go hungry in Hackney every day. In a country as well-resourced as the UK, this is wrong,” she said.

‘No One Goes Hungry’ is the name of the charity’s crowdfunder which aims to raise the money in six weeks to keep the programme running through 2022.

“Our service is more than a meal,” said the charity. “Our evolving approach to building food resilience means our meal recipients can attend online and face to face cookery classes, enjoy community connection and develop skills by volunteering with us.”

Every week, the charity cooks thousands of meals using donated food as well as specialist cultural ingredients. Their meals are culturally varied, featuring recipes from all corners of the world. They are 100% vegan.  

The charity’s founder, Sarah Bentley, said in a statement: ”Our community are amazingly resilient, talented and resourceful, but sometimes too many challenges happen at once and without support, you’d go hungry.”

Referral to the meal delivery program is usually made by GPs, but residents can also refer themselves. Made in Hackney sets no limits on how long someone can receive meals. 

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