An International Women’s Day Exclusive
City Harvest – Promoting Gender Equality with Food Redistribution
Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8th, this month’s piece explores how City Harvest aligns with SDG 5: Gender Equality.
City Harvest is proud to promote and achieve gender equality and empower women. Whether it’s sourcing surplus food, organising volunteers to sort food or delivering to end-user charities, there are women in every department of City Harvest contributing to the organisation’s overarching mission of saving food for people and the planet. City Harvest is proud to say that women make up over 50% of the workforce – and that’s not forgetting the women who form part of City Harvest’s incredible volunteer network who are instrumental in the day-to-day unloading, sorting, packing, and loading of food donations destined for our charity recipients.
SDG #5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Beyond the boundaries of City Harvest’s two depots, some of the charities that City Harvest delivers free food to provide support and refuge to women and girls across London. These shelters and refuges are a lifeline to survivors of domestic abuse and modern trafficking, offering accommodation, food, and advice. The food donated by City Harvest is a source of nourishment and relief and helps survivors take the first steps towards rebuilding their lives.
Other charities to whom we deliver surplus food help women, girls, and families in many other ways. By providing free food, it allows recipients’ budgets to be stretched for other necessities, including legal support, mental health support, rent, and clothing.
Spanning London, some of City Harvest’s recipients include Solace Women’s Aid, WAND UK, Woman to Woman Ministry, and Women’s Inclusive Team.
Solace Women’s Aid, Camden, exists to end the harm done by Violence against Women and Girls:
“The women here are on extremely limited budgets and find it very hard to support themselves with only universal credit while they are not working, especially women with families. A single person receives about £70-80 a week, which leaves little for food.”
Chahd of WAND UK present at a City Harvest delivery for the community food distribution
WAND UK, Kensington & Chelsea, (Women’s Association for Networking and Development) empowers women through training and courses, provides free food for anyone facing food poverty, and offers 1-on-1 emotional support for those experiencing or recovering from trauma, and/or escaping domestic violence. WAND’s community food distribution alleviates financial pressure and emotional stress for their recipients through the lifeline of free food from City Harvest.
Here’s what some of the service users have to say about WAND’s support through free food:
“I was sacked from my job. Me and my children did not have food for three days. I saw a flyer about WAND’s community food centre and came here. It is such a mental relief knowing that at least we would not go hungry again.”
“After paying bills, I am left with very little money which does not allow me to buy enough food to last me the whole week. The food support I get from WAND has not only made my life easier, but I’ve extended this help to my two friends who are disabled and are struggling, like me.”
WAND volunteer, Ania, unloads City Harvest van last year at a venue shared by WAND and Venture Community Association, Ladbroke Grove.
Woman to Woman Ministry, Hammersmith & Fulham
The Woman to Woman team, featuring our very own Pam (far left), our longest-serving volunteer.
“Woman to Woman (Real Talk) Ministry would like to personally thank City Harvest and all the staff for providing food for us for the past three years and for being a great help. It has been a blessing to the community and the people that receive food parcels. During one of our sessions, we were asked by a lady if we were angels in Fulham! We have been giving food to passers by who wanted to know what we were doing, as well as our regular recipients.
A big shout out to the drivers and volunteers who are always helpful and full of energy. Food blessings reached about 25 to 30 people monthly coming for food from all areas in Hammersmith and Fulham, Croydon, and beyond.”
Words of thanks from the Woman to Woman community:
“Thank you all at City Harvest and staff for all the hard work to bring us amazing food often high quality. I know this all helps many of us in these challenging times. Blessings for 2022.” (Leni)
“I have been really grateful for the food provided. I’ve had good quality food I’ve never tried before, and my children always look forward to what will be in the box! It has really helped with my bills as I can use the money I save to pay for bills.” (Athleen)
Women’s Inclusive Team, Tower Hamlets
City Harvest surplus supports the WIT Food Bank and Community Kitchen weekly
Women’s Inclusive team is a grassroots charity supporting Black and Ethnic Minority Women and their families in Tower Hamlets. The organisation started almost 20 years ago by 5 young Somali mums to support the local community and empower women and girls. The team addresses issues of mental health, domestic violence, and general wellbeing, and offer guidance, advice, and key services to help vulnerable community members.
The WIT food bank and community kitchen were especially relied upon during the pandemic. In 2020, the Food Bank supported hundreds of primary Somali and Bengali households, delivering a total of over 8,000 packages. The community kitchen, run by staff and volunteers, provided tens of thousands of Halal meals for the local community in need.
City Harvest’s Tay, Community Impact, and Cristina, Comms, visit Women’s Inclusive Team in 2021.
Without these incredible women, there would be many more hungry mouths in London.
The work our recipient charities do for their London community, including and beyond food provision, impacts countless lives in so many ways, and we are grateful that City Harvest food ends up in compassionate and capable hands.