The Felix Project Interview for Next Meal

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!

Thank you Tash, and keep up the amazing work!

Exeter launch on June 28

Exeter Cathedral

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!

Does your store cupboard pass the Next Meal challenge?

We believe that it’s important the food we serve should offer a balanced diet. After all, good physical health is essential to maintain good mental health.

That’s why we’re asking you to review the food that is donated. Does it pass the Next Meal test?

  • Is it in good condition and within the expiry date?
  • Check the salt and fat content isn’t high.
  • Make sure you’re using the food within the best practice guidelines.
  • Serve sparingly if high in salt and sugar.
  • Is it nutritious?
  • Does it provide the right balance for the people that we are serving it to?

We’d love to know what’s in your store cupboard. Upload photos and tag us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Are homeless people overfed but undernourished?

Nicole Berberian-Alabaster
TV & Media Nutritionist

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…

Vegetable soup: Onions, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, lentils.

Main meal: Pork, chicken or beef. Whole grain bread, pasta, potatoes or rice. Plus seasonal vegetables.

Dessert: Fresh Fruit served with yoghurt, or make an oat crumble and include dry fruit.

You can find lots more on nutrition on Nicole’s website.

Food on the streets: London and Los Angeles

Homeless man looks out on LA and London streets.
(Photo: Homeless man looks out on LA and London streets. Credit: BBC/Getty Images)

Hear Martin Stone talk about Next Meal and street homelessness on BBC’s World Service

The Food Chain

How do you eat when you have no home? Nowhere to store food, nowhere to cook, no table to eat at?

In this episode we are with homeless people in two of the world’s most prosperous cities – London and Los Angeles – to talk about how they feed themselves.

This is a tale of two cities – a surprising story perhaps of the abundance of food in the most deprived parts of society. What does it tell us about our global food supply chain?

A link to the show is here.