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Community Cafe in Walthamstow distributes life-changing City harvest food

The Hornbeam Community Café, Walthamstow, is a vibrant, “pay how you feel” café catering for vulnerable people in the local area with hot, plant-based meals and distributing free grocery packs once a week, using City Harvest surplus.

First City Harvest Delivery: 1st May 2019
Each week City Harvest delivers free, nutritious food that can make 728 meals a week for guests at the Hornbeam.

The team is almost purely voluntary, giving valuable time to become part of something bigger: a community. Not only does the Hornbeam exist to offer recipients healthy food options and the opportunity to socialise, but provides support to volunteers who are also in need of help.

Watch the video below to hear more from Food Rescue Coordinator, Sophie, and Volunteer, Danni.

“What we’ve seen is that people want to be a part of a community and help each other. We feel we really want to encourage that; we think there’s beauty in that.” Sophie, Food Rescue Co-ordinator

The community-led model has meant that people in need have approached the Hornbeam for help and free food throughout, and beforehand, Covid-19 without fear of judgment. Whilst some of the Hornbeam’s clientele are street homeless, many have suddenly found themselves unable to access or afford food due to the lasting effects of Covid-19 over the past 14 months.

Food Rescue Coordinator, Sophie, recalls a large family in Leyton, who, limited by a language barrier, were struggling to access support and turned to the Hornbeam for help, who were able to provide the family with food and refer them to the services they needed.

The community café’s role has also evolved into a hub where the team can signpost users to other vital services within the area. Sophie explains how her role is so much more than redistributing food, often it demands a high level of crisis management and the ability to de-escalate certain difficult predicaments. The team have undergone deescalation training in order to help on site and best cater to the needs of the community by identifying problems and helping to find a solution.

“We’ve always been trying to address food poverty in the borough by also addressing food waste and bringing the two issues together. The impact of Covid has really hit that message home for people: that anyone can suddenly find themselves without access to food. Sophie, Food Rescue Coordinator

Livery Kitchen Initiative Meals

As well as catering for the local vulnerable in Walthamstow from the community cafe’s own kitchen, the Hornbeam has also been a recipient of the Livery Kitchen Initiative meals over the past year.

The Livery Kitchen Initiative, which supports projects in East London, sees three City Livery Companies (Drapers, Grocers & Fishmongers) partner to provide food, kitchens, and chefs who cook meals which are distributed to charities, identified by City Harvest, in Waltham Forest, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney & Islington.

City Harvest vans would not be able to deliver nutritious surplus to 350+ London projects without YOUR help. As Covid-19 has exacerbated pre-existing levels of food poverty in the capital, we must continue to scale up to meet the rising demand for good food.

Help us to deliver more food to more fantastic projects like the Hornbeam, and donate now.