Chefs from Soho House have been volunteering their culinary expertise and services during Autumn half term at their nearest Kitchen Social Club, a Mayor’s Fund for London initiative to tackle holiday hunger.
Chefs from Soho House sites across London assisted cooks from community groups, providing free lunches and activities for young Londoners, on free school meals and from low-income families, who face social isolation and hunger during the school holidays. In addition to lending a helping hand in the kitchen, the chefs arrived with a selection of cold pressed juices, fruit, vegetables, breads and pastries for the children to taste. They also engaged in a range of activities from pumpkin carving to dancing the Time Warp.
Over 500,000 young Londoners struggle for food the moment the school gates are closed (Source: Sustain – Beyond the Food Bank Nov 2016). The Mayor’s Fund for London is taking positive steps to address this by working in collaboration with the GLA, local boroughs and community groups. The social mobility charity, based at City Hall, is especially delighted that Soho House & Co is providing both vital fund and awareness raising support, as well as practical assistance.
‘With no free school meals or teacher support during the holidays, hunger and social isolation are a reality for many young Londoners. Teachers report malnourished children returning to school with reduced cognitive powers, inability to concentrate and integrate. In many cases their BMI is increased due to inactivity and high fat/sugar diet.” Matthew Patten, CEO of the Mayor’s Fund said. “We are delighted that Kitchen Social has been adopted by Soho House and look forward to developing a long-term partnership with the Group to achieve our 2020 vision in providing free meals and activities across all x33 London boroughs.’
Kitchen Social is a 3 year, £2million campaign, following a successful pilot delivered across 5 boroughs by the Mayor’s Fund in partnership with community groups including schools, housing associations sports and youth clubs. From the lessons learned, the programme has been rolled out across 12 London boroughs this year, with over 10,000 free meals (of school food standards) and activities provided during the Summer holidays alone.
A recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Holiday Hunger saluted the work of volunteers and charities in addressing the issue and recommended that the government draw on the Mayor’s Fund’s work with Kitchen Social to design a national programme. A bill is being presented in Parliament in January to call for statutory change, not just in London but nationwide.
Tom Collins, UK Director, Soho House & Co, said: ‘London is seen as the food capital of the world, so it’s shocking that many young people in the city struggle for meals during the school holidays. Each Soho House is supportive of its local neighbourhood and community, and we’re glad we can play a small part in alleviating child hunger this half term.’
To date, the Soho House Group has raised just over £10,000 by means of a discretionary donation scheme. Future activities are planned to raise further funds to deliver free meals and activities across all x33 London boroughs.
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