Our priority is to ensure all quality, edible, surplus food goes to those in need – Laura Winningham, OBEPublished on 15 Dec 2020
City Harvest CEO on their journey so far
London is one of the wealthiest cities in the world but hidden amongst us are many people who cannot afford to feed themselves and their families. When we started City Harvest we knew two things: that there was a rising level of hunger in London and a tremendous amount of surplus food available from restaurants, supermarkets and manufacturers at the end of each day.
City Harvest is London’s first large scale, last-mile, food redistribution charity. We started small - with a man in a van, collecting from WholeFoods Kensington and delivering to a church in Acton. Back then, we didn’t have was any sense of the scale of the need. Today, we redistribute more than 200,000 nourishing meals each week to hundreds of charities across every London borough.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, we have doubled the volumes of food being distributed. We scaled up our food rescue warehouse from 3,000 to 10,000 square feet and worked around the clock to ensure no meals went to waste. To put it in perspective, City Harvest delivered four million meals in the first three-month UK lockdown compared to four million meals in the whole fiscal year 2019.
People who were doing very well in their jobs were suddenly furloughed or let go. Parents were going without meals so their children could eat. It takes its toll and chips away at people - they’re not only hungry but also filled with worry about where the next meal will come from.
We support a number of London-based charities from soup kitchens and homeless charities to children’s programmes and sport centres. We give to any organisation that can use our food to do their jobs better. They could be offering counselling services, job advice or after school care. Together we can make a greater impact.
City Harvest is now delivering to around 300 charities but have a wait list of 300 and need more food to grow. For every 25p that’s donated we can deliver one nourishing meal. Corporate fundraising keeps our vans and drivers on the road, but it is also about building awareness. Working with manufacturers and producers to ensure that all quality, edible, surplus food goes to those in need is our number one priority.
Laura Winningham, OBE, is Chief Executive of London’s first large scale, last-mile, food redistribution charity, City Harvest, Stonehage Fleming’s UK charity partner for 2020.
City Harvest has recently raised £50,000 as part of their Big Give Christmas Challenges. Funds raised will enable the charity to deliver 200,000 meals to children and their families this Christmas. Read more and donate.