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The Kilburn Community Kitchen sustainably navigating the cost-of-living crisis

“People are really crying out to us. People are in desperate situations.”

Leslie Barson on the cost-of-living crisis.

Leslie Barson, Founder, Granville Community Kitchen

“Food aid has become a big part of what we do since 2020. People were becoming reliant on the bags and it wasn’t helping.


The food aid was, you know the story about feeding a man a fish and you feed him for a day and that’s what we were doing.


[..] for that moment they were feeling better but then it didn’t change anything in their lives and they have to come back as soon as the bag’s finished.


We decided to do a piece of research about why people were needing the bags and we were hoping that we would find one or two things that stood out above others, but we didn’t, in fact we found that it was across the board reasons from the rising cost-of-living, health problems, both physical and mental, and slow services, not enough services, bad working conditions, insecurity in jobs and low wages, terrible housing conditions, insecurity and very high rents, and so on.


Since we’ve stopped the food aid with a no-borders approach, so: to anyone who asked for it, if we had the food, people are really crying out to us. People are in desperate situations. A lot of people have never been in this situation before. But we are thinking about how we could approach the cost-of-living crisis more sustainably so that people don’t just get a bag that they don’t necessarily want.


So, what we’re looking to do is start a small and very well defined food coop. But the other thing we have is our Good Food Box which is a veg box scheme aimed at low-income families and the food is bought from farmers who are good farmers, they’re organic, and they’re well-paid, they’re in secure positions.


So, across the board we give jobs to people which are well-paid and secure and have holiday pay and good conditions. And then the bottom pricing is a solidarity pricing scheme, so the lowest price is £3.10- you get 6 items at different weights and it’s good food. This is a sustainable way of supporting people on very low incomes.”

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