On June 28, we held a launch event in Exeter Cathedral to highlight homeless charities and create awareness of Next Meal. We were delighted by the turnout, which included the Mayor and many other local dignitaries, as well as a number of charities and media outlets.
If you attended, see if you can recognise yourself in this gallery…
Giving people access to services and education they desperately need makes our cities better environments for everyone, which is why we support the Next Meal good food campaign.
Interview with Tash Clementis, Central London Co-ordinator, The Felix Project
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Tash. We know from personal experience about The Felix Project and the amazing work you do, so we’re sure that our followers will be interested to hear more.
What does The Felix Project do?
The Felix Project rescues high-quality nutritious food for people in London who struggle to afford good food. This is food from suppliers, including supermarkets, wholesalers, farms, restaurants and delis that would otherwise go to waste. It’s delivered to charities that cook meals and prepare food parcels and to primary schools to distribute to children and their families.
How much food do you distribute?
This year we will deliver 2,000 tonnes of food to more than 280 London charities and primary schools. This is enough food to make almost five million meals.
How does the operation work?
Volunteers collect food from suppliers in vans, sort it and then deliver it to charities and schools. We have depots in North and West London and do our best to keep local food local, which is greener and builds a sense of community with suppliers, charities and volunteers.
Our central London operation uses 100% green energy. Deliveries from suppliers go direct to charities in electric vans and Green Scheme volunteers do walking and cycling collections and deliveries.
Is this a model that can work in other cities around the world?
Absolutely! There’s no shortage of food in cities, but there’s a lot of wastage. Retailers and producers are happy to give us their surplus food for free and our logistics are easily replicable, which offers a way to remodel food supply and help homeless people and others in London who struggle to afford good food. Sharing food brings a sense of happiness.
It must be costly to run this operation in an expensive city like London?
We keep running costs low thanks to suppliers who donate their surplus food for free, just two depots to minimise overheads and a small staff. We are also extremely lucky to have made some fantastic friends with companies who provide equipment, tech solutions, services and logistical support for free or at extremely low rates.
At the heart of this success is the goodwill and generosity of our volunteers, without whom we would have to pay a workforce to provide the service. Ultimately, with the kindness of just a few organisations and some wonderful willing volunteers we have built a low cost, sustainable, scalable, environmentally friendly, unique service in the very heart of London.
Why do you like the Next Meal ‘good food’ campaign?
Next Meal helps people find amazing food in a really simple way, and the good food campaign is about healthy food for a balanced diet. Giving people access to services and education they desperately need makes our cities better environments for everyone, which is why we support the Next Meal good food campaign.
How can people support The Felix Project?
We are always delighted to welcome new supporters who help reduce food waste and ensure that good food reaches people who really need it. Please visit www.thefelixproject.org to make a donation or sign up as a volunteer. We’d love to hear from you!
We are excited to announce that our Exeter launch will be held at the beautiful Exeter Cathedral on 28th June, with the Councillor Leader of Housing for Exeter in attendance along with extensive press and media support.
This completes a trilogy of successful launches in the South West, following Bristol and Plymouth.
If you are in the Exeter area please feel free to come along!
In recent research, results have shown that homeless people are increasingly dying of strokes. In order to find out if the homeless are being overfed, yet undernourished, we spoke with nutrition expert Nicole Berberian-Alabaster.
What is research telling us about the diets of homeless people?
Studies on the homeless find that they are indeed not getting what they need nutritionally. They found this group is low in fruit, fibre, protein, vitamin C, selenium, zinc, and for women, iron. Milk and calcium intake were also low. However, the results showed a high level of alcohol, salt and saturated fats.
What is the impact of a poor diet?
The effects of an unbalanced diet mean that the average age of death in this group is just 47 years, with the leading cause of death being cardiovascular disease.
Mental illness is higher in the homeless too, with a link to high alcohol use and lows in the important B vitamin thiamin.
Thiamin is already low in this kind of diet, but alcohol makes this worse by blocking it coming into the body. The result is even lower thiamin.
Low thiamin leads to a serious mental health and brain condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff’s syndrome. The effects are confusion, impaired coordination of limbs, memory problems and brain damage, along with heart failure.
The drug-free way and starting point to improve both these conditions, and the many other related health issues, is diet.
Could you suggest a healthy menu that would work best for our guests?
My idea of the perfect healthy menu would look a little like this…
My warm greetings to all the homeless centres across Europe.
I have been volunteering for two years and I am mainly involved in assisting the manager. I commit to my duties here with a lot of passion and the help that I provide, even if it is small, makes me very happy. I know I am just a drop in the ocean, but a lot of drops together will create the ocean itself.
Since I have started volunteering, the number of guests that comes into the canteen is pretty much the same. We host 100-120 people daily except Saturdays. We are also closed in August. We can say that in Italy there is a common break, so it is very difficult to find volunteers. That does not mean that we leave poor people alone, since there are other centres where they can easily find assistance and their next meal.
The guests are mostly men (80-90%). We do host women and they usually have a separate area in the canteen where they can enjoy their meal, unless they have sons or their husband, in which case they eat all together.
The majority of our guests come from abroad. Almost all of them speak Italian even if it’s just a little. Then you can hear English, French, Spanish which are also comprehensible for us. There are a few cases of African or Asian guests who do not speak or understand any other language. That makes the conversation a bit difficult but not impossible. Because all the guests have been living in Italy, they do speak a basic Italian and Milan offers free courses to learn Italian too.
A typical meal at the OMC consists of traditional food: pasta or rice as a main course, soup, meat and veggies or a cold dish as a second course, fruits, desserts and vegetarian options on request.
According to a Milanotoday article there are 2,608 homeless in Milan.