Community cooks deliver plant-based food to Hackney

A cookery school forced to abandon lessons now makes free meals for vulnerable people

Made in Hackney fundraiser sign and healthy plant-based food

Staying safe and sane in the time of coronavirus is hard enough, but for vulnerable people who may find it difficult to shop for themselves, life has become even more difficult. Now one community charity is cooking up a solution for them – and delivering it too.

Made in Hackney, a plant-based cookery school and charity that educates people about the benefits of vegan cuisine, has partnered with local gourmet restaurant Angelina to rustle up food for those in need. Not only that, but the meals are taken round to them too.

As well as meat free sustenance, they get a vital social connection, courtesy of the charity’s couriers. Since the government advised people to stay at home other than for certain specific reasons, many of the charity’s clients – including the elderly, low-income families, adults with educational needs and people with long-term health problems – have been cut off from the community. The couriers who deliver their food have a chat with them, see how they’re coping and refer them for further support if needed.

“As the Covid-19 crisis began to evolve, we realised we would not be able to hold any of our classes, courses and events that make up our entire service provision,” said Sarah Bentley, Made in Hackney’s founder. “We also released how vulnerable and at risk so many households in Hackney are, and that they would need food – urgently.

“In the space of a week we ripped up our job descriptions, all our usual operations, and decided as a team we would need to completely change our entire operation to a direct-to-door free meal service of all the people who could not get out, or no longer had funds to buy all food their households needs.”

Because the escalating crisis meant the cancellation not only of classes and culinary community get-togethers, but of fundraising events too, the charity has now launched an emergency crowdfunding campaign. The money will allow it to stay afloat and continue providing Hackney’s needy with environmentally-friendly food and community-friendly care. It initially set out to raise £30,000, but by this week had already passed the £50,000 mark.

Sarah added: “It’s been hugely inspiring to see the nation pull together. There are small shops giving free pasta to the over-60s; Covid-19 mutual aid support groups in nearly every area; restaurants swapping their services to being soup kitchens. All the amazing community organisations changing their services to being frontline Covid-19 support services.”

Visit Made in Hackney’s crowdfunder page to donate.