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200,000 free healthy meals delivered to Londoners in need last Christmas

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Nearly 200,000 free meals were distributed to Londoners last Christmas as housing association Peabody and its charity partners joined forces to host nearly 50 winter food markets across London.

Published: 08/02/2024

A staggering 82 tonnes of fresh food – the equivalent in weight of 32 black cabs - worth £131,000 were saved from waste and given to Londoners in need over the Christmas period.

Fruit and vegetables made up 55 percent of the deliveries from a range of 500 suppliers - including all major supermarkets such as Sainsburys and Ocado.

In partnership with The Felix Project, HACT and other housing associations, the winter market events were the first major project between the partners and part of the wider London Food Insecurity Network.

Recent research carried out by Peabody in its Index report found that almost a third of those surveyed have a household income of less than £20,000. This is below the fulltime salary on the London Living Wage and below the Minimum Income Standard.

The report showed that more residents described their finances as ‘difficult’ than ‘ok’, and worse than the previous year. Residents in every age group told Peabody they have cut back on essentials like food and energy because of their worsening finances.

The markets brought communities together in each London borough for a range of festive activities – offering a warm and welcoming environment for people to help tackle food waste by filling their baskets with fresh and store cupboard ingredients.

Peabody hosted seven winter market events across the capital to help tackle food insecurity.

The Network is funded by not-for-profit housing association Peabody and focused on bringing together London-based housing associations to tackle food insecurity. Its ambition is to ensure that no social housing resident in London goes to bed hungry through access to more and better food.

As part of the Network, G15 members are pooling resources to support The Felix Project and in turn benefit their residents and communities. Peabody and Hyde have already donated £50,000 each to The Felix Project and are garnering support from fellow G15 members and supply chain partners. This donation will be used to cover the cost of storing and delivering food to those in need.

Sahil Khan, Director of Community Strategy, Partnerships and Funding at Peabody, said: “The festive season can be a difficult time for many people and was even tougher last year with the ongoing cost of living crisis.

“The winter markets ensured surplus food from supermarkets was available to people in their neighbourhoods at an expensive time of year instead of going to waste and ending up in a landfill site.

“Our partnership with HACT and The Felix Project is just one example of our dedication to making a tangible difference to the lives of Londoners by breaking stigmas, supporting residents, and boosting health and wellbeing.”

Damien Conrad, Community Partnerships Manager at The Felix Project said: “The Christmas markets initiative showed the power of collaboration and emphasized the role of food as a catalyst for positive change. The plans and amazing support from staff and volunteers brought communities together, smiles to faces, and provided much-needed food to those facing challenges.”

Adam Chester, Network Lead at HACT said: “We've been running the London Food Insecurity Network in collaboration with Peabody and The Felix Project, using our reach across the sector to bring together as many housing associations as possible to support those most in need across the region.

“We’re delighted that through the Network we are now engaged in over 100 food projects supported by housing associations, encouraging them to collaborate, commit resources, and identify opportunities to pilot new approaches.

“Delivering the winter markets this year is a huge achievement by the Network and those involved. The efforts of the individuals will have a huge impact on those benefitting from the project making a real difference to residents this winter.”

Lucy Norgate, Hyde’s Charitable Trust and Fundraising Manager said: “Christmas might be the most wonderful time of the year for many of us, but this year in particular has been a challenging time. We’re proud that Hyde is part of the London Food Insecurity Network and supporting The Felix Project – providing vital support across London, including to our customers and customers across the G15 housing associations.”

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