In the first of a series, Jane King reports on FOOD
At the beginning of lockdown, St Peter’s crypt had to close and all community activities here were suspended. It is now just beginning to open for individual osteopathy and acupuncture appointments but we do not expect any other activities to start before September. In the meantime, several of the community groups have found other ways of carrying on their work and we thought you might like to know how some of them have fared.
Several of the regular activities in the crypt have involved food (including St Peter’s Souper Tuesday and Open Crypt and the Friday Community Café). Here is how two very different ones concerned with food have been affected by the pandemic.
Humdingers Soup Kitchen
The generous donation of delicious freshly made soup for Souper Tuesday by local catering company Hummdingers has enabled St Peters to offer soup for free for nearly two years. As we have had to close, it became obvious to owner Robert Hunninger that the need was becoming increasingly urgent.
Humdingers bakery and pizzeria opened just as the Covid-19 pandemic began and the lockdown resulted in the temporary closure of their catering division. However, proceeds from the pizzas have helped to maintain a soup kitchen four nights a week which now provides well over 1,000 portions a month. Plant-based soup and homemade bread are on the menu every evening but occasionally other things may be added such as pizza on Friday. No one is left to go without – if people drop by during the day they will at least be given some of yesterday’s bread.
Robert is personally involved in catering for the soup kitchen and covering the cost. He anticipates the need for food will only become greater and says: ‘I don’t want people to go hungry on my watch. Even with our limited resources we are determined to continue to serve our community who find themselves in difficulty during these exceptional times.’
All are welcome so if anyone you know (or you) might want or need Robert’s soup and bread do encourage them to go along to Humdingers at 234-236 Hoxton Street from 5-7pm any Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Growing Communities veg box scheme
Growing Communities have been providing fresh, organic, seasonal vegetables and fruit to the Hackney community for some years now. You choose a size of box, which can be changed depending on your needs, and one of several delivery points including St Peters. Some of the food is very locally grown, such as salads from Hackney and they also run a Saturday farmers’ market in Stoke Newington.
The lockdown changed the way some people thought about and bought food, with more dependence on deliveries and buying locally. Growing Communities had to rearrange their operation to keep farmers, staff and customers safe but also had to cope with a surge in demand. This meant they had to close their subscription service to new customers in April, though the farmers’ market has kept going throughout.
Growing Communities Rachel Dring says: ‘We’ve noticed an increase in people’s appreciation for good food and awareness of the food system. We hope in future the new COVID-inspired appreciation of food and sense of community and kindness will stay with us and result in more ethical choices.’
Growing Communities is now able to take on more customers and open its scheme to new subscribers. So if you’ve been wanting to join and get the lovely summer fruit and veg coming in from local farms do contact them: www.growingcommunities.organic-veg-scheme.
DBA Food Bank
Food poverty is an increasing problem and the additional impact of COVID-19 will be long-lasting. De Beauvoir Association volunteers led by Roisin Symes have done a wonderful job in setting up a local food bank in Benyon Estate premises at 23 Englefield Road (next to Spice Island). Regular food parcels are now being supplied to more than 20 families and a few calls are coming in from people whose shortfall in furlough income or depletion of savings have left them in need of support.
Donations of tinned, dried and longlife food plus toiletries, household goods and baby products can be left between12-2 Tuesday – Saturday (fresh produce is also accepted on Thursdays and Fridays). Financial donations can be made on GoFundMe giving page: gf.me/u/ybrzii. Anyone who needs support from the food bank or knows someone who does should contact the DBA on 073 9407 5597 (or firstname.lastname@example.org.) which is also the number for those who need help from or a chat with a volunteer.