Our appeal to tackle escalating hunger surged past £4m on Friday, thanks to a £250,000 donation from online supermarket chain Ocado and additional support from key food suppliers.
The new landmark – reached in just seven weeks – came as the children’s commissioner for England “applauded” our Help The Hungry campaign and said we should never accept it as normal for children to go hungry.
Addressing The Independent’s pledge to raise £10m for The Felix Project, our appeal partner, commissioner Anne Longfield said: “For so many children, the initial excitement of unexpected time off school has faded and they are missing friends, structure to their day, learning and a good meal provided.
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
“We should never forget that in this country, in this day and age, sadly it is still possible, indeed a reality, for some children to go hungry, and we should never accept that as ‘normal’ or ‘just how it is’ and shrug our shoulders.
“I applaud The Independent’s efforts with this campaign and congratulate them on raising so much.”
leftCreated with Sketch.
rightCreated with Sketch.
The money raised in conjunction with the Evening Standard has empowered The Felix Project to quadruple its deliveries to 40 tons a day, providing a lifeline to the vulnerable in London in the form of more than 2 million meals since we launched in March.
Jo West, head of sustainability at Ocado, which gave seven tons of food to The Felix Project in April, praised Felix for “making a tremendous difference to so many people in the most vulnerable situations”.
She added: “In these unprecedented times, Felix has upscaled to meet the challenge. We couldn’t be prouder to donate and help them to get food to people in the most difficult situations.”
Another supplier to go the extra mile is Reach Food Service, a provider of premium ingredients to London’s gourmet restaurants, which has donated £10,000.
In addition it has pledged £1 for every home delivery during 2020 of its newly launched Reach My Kitchen initiative – dispensing meat, seafood and poultry ingredients normally reserved for London’s top chefs directly to households – and which it estimates will raise its total donation to £50,000.
Other food-linked organisations that have already supported our appeal include The Daylesford Foundation, which donated £100,000, and Hello Fresh with £25,000.
No hype, just the advice and analysis you need
Critically, food companies have also pitched in with vital food supplies. Richard Smith, supply manager of The Felix Project, said they had “really stepped up to the plate”.
“Some companies have hugely increased their supplies to us,” he said. “Innocent normally give us five pallets a week but this week we took 24 pallets off them. Same with Müller – their contribution has quadrupled.”
Evgeny Lebedev, a shareholder in The Independent, said: “Our Food for London Now campaign has raised £4m in just seven weeks. With more than 1,500 reader donations, and the support of London companies, we have reached heights few expected.
“We have told the stories of the people who are suffering during this pandemic. The homeless, the unemployed, the isolated. And we have saluted the innovative people who have applied their skills to helping them in this crisis.
“The capital has heard our call, but the hunger crisis has not peaked – just look at the grim economic news from this week. We have committed to raising £10m to ensure the food security of Londoners for three years. So well done, but the hard part comes now. ”
Here, 11 of Felix’s most prolific suppliers (in addition to Ocado) explain why they have chosen to partner with Felix, London’s biggest food surplus distributor.
Felix suppliers and their generous food donations in April:
The firm which produces online recipe boxes has donated 39 tons. Laurent Guillemain, its CEO, said: “We are proud to partner with Felix during the most extraordinary of times. Helping to care for our communities and the vulnerable is more important than ever and we will continue to support this incredible initiative that helps redistribute surplus food however we can.”
A dairy products company which contributed 17 tons. The managing director of Müller Yogurt and Desserts, Bergen Merey, said: “Over three years ago I committed to this genuine cause, having read the story of young Felix. With a 14-year-old son of my own, I felt inspired by this wonderful initiative in his memory.”
Reach Food Service
The restaurant and hotel supplier gave 12 tons. Murtaza Lakhani, its owner, said: “The twin issues of food waste and hunger are having major impacts on London. We are proud to make a commitment to Felix as well as to supply high quality food stocks and fresh ingredients so that vulnerable families, elderly people and our amazing NHS workers know there is a nutritious meal waiting for them at the end of the day.”
The company which produces smoothies has donated 11 tons. Its head of refreshment marketing, Suraj Gangani, said: “We’re proud to have supported Felix in getting our healthy drinks to those who’ve needed them through this tough time.”
The craft organic bakery gave 10 tons. Its spokesperson said: “We decided to change the way we approached food waste and engage with just one organisation, The Felix Project. They are an inspiration. We appreciate that the work of Felix will become more critical and widespread now and for the foreseeable future.”
The Country Food Trust
A meat supply company that gave 9 tons. Tim Woodward, CEO, said: “We are delighted to work closely with Felix. Since we started working with them we have delivered over 32,000 meals and 6,200kg of meat for cooking.”
The Caring Foundation
The company behind restaurants including The Ivy, Le Caprice, Scott’s and Sexy Fish contributed 8 tons. Richard Caring, its founder, said: “During these difficult times we must come together. The fantastic volunteers from Caprice Holdings restaurants and The Ivy Collections have been cooking 20,000 meals a week to supply, in partnership with Felix, some of London’s vulnerable communities. Together we can make a difference.”
An online fruit and veg box company which gave 7 tons. Its co-founders, Emilie Vanpoperinghe and Deepak Ravindran, said: “We rescue odd and surplus fruit and veg directly from farms. Working with Felix means we can prevent delicious food from going to waste.”
The catering suppliers donated 7 tons. Sarah Reynolds, its head of corporate and social responsibility, said: “We have partnered with Felix for some years. Together with many of our customers, we have been able to divert surplus food to those who need it most. We are very proud of this relationship.”
Marks & Spencer
The supermarket and clothing retailer gave 6 tons. Ryan Kerr, head of M&S’s north London region, said: “Through our partnership with community platform Neighbourly, our northwest London stores have donated 3,200 meals to Felix since the start of March to support those who need it most in these communities.”
The supermarket gave 9 tons. Its spokesperson said: “We have proudly been working with Felix since 2016. They collect surplus food from 24 of our stores and our online distribution centre and a number of our colleagues have volunteered in London.”