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Food Poverty

City Harvest addresses food poverty & food waste.
The City Speaks Up video series regularly interviews our charity partners about the state of need in London.

800K Children in Food Poverty Miss out on Free School Meals

North Kensington Community Kitchen, W11

“It’s a real issue, it’s a real problem. We’ve got a growing number of children who are not having a meal during the day. It may be that we need to extend Free School Meals to all children.”

Melanie reports that children living in poverty who don’t qualify for Free School Meals are turning up to school with empty lunchboxes. 800,000 children are falling through the system’s gaps, going the day without a meal.

School Food Banks in Demand

Parkfield Primary School, NW4

“We have seen the need rise, fast. We provide almost 100 ‘Community Boxes’ of free food & healthcare items a week to families facing food poverty in North West London.” 

Parkfield Primary & the Hyde School, part of The Elliot Foundation Academies Trust, run weekly food distribution hubs to support families in need, including increasingly more refugee families residing in the local Holiday Inn.

Families Will go Hungry Without Access to Free Food

Manorfield Primary School, E14

Manorfield Primary School in Tower Hamlets has always been acutely aware of rising food poverty in the community, especially during COVID-19. Now, as the cost-of-living crisis bites, families are struggling to survive, let alone thrive, as pressure mounts.

Why is there a cost of living crisis?

A “cost of living crisis” often happens when high inflation (inflation occurs when there is a broad increase in the prices of goods and services) outstrips wage and benefit increases. In the UK, this has been the case and things have been made worse with recent tax increases.

As is often the case in life, the poorest people are affected the most. This is because they have the least disposable income to start with. So, when goods and services increase in price, but income remains the same, some people can no longer afford all of the things they could before. This often includes the basics.

Due to high inflation, people are forced to make the choice between buying food or paying bills: heating or eating. 13.8% of households in the UK experienced food insecurity in April (2022), and 2.4 million adults went at least one day without eating because they couldn’t afford food (Source: Food Foundation)

This crisis is having major consequences in London, where more than 21% of adults are already facing food insecurity and 800,000 children live in poverty. Even before the crisis, every month Londoners were missing an estimated 10.2 million meals.

Borough-wide Food Hubs Experience Greater Demand than COVID-19 Peak

Food Bank Aid, N12

“What we’re seeing is greater demand for food now than during COVID-19 at its peak”

City Harvest recipient charity, Food Bank Aid, started out of a Highgate garage, is a Barnet-based food hub providing to a borough-wide network of food banks. The hub distributes food to 12+ projects that help struggling families, individuals, asylum seekers, and many more, access nutritious food.

More Employed People are Accessing our Partnered Food Banks

Gibbs Green Community Champions, W14

City Harvest recipient charity, Gibbs Green Community Champion’s Project Coordinator, Sara Gibbs, details the changing need in the West Kensington community. Whilst the Champions have mostly been providing food to those without work, the homeless, or those without recourse to public funding, they are now finding increasingly more employed people who have never accessed free food before using their food distribution service.

What is City Harvest doing to help?

City Harvest provides an efficient solution to address the issues of food poverty and food waste across London. Every week, we rescue over 80 tonnes of surplus food, enough for 1.1 million meals, and provide it, free of charge, to over 350 charity organisations.

The London food industry throws away enough surplus food each month to create 13.3 million nutritious meals, which is more than enough to feed every person struggling to eat in the capital. However, there is a significant cost associated with rescuing this food and distributing it.

Our 18 refrigerated vans are on the road 7 days a week, delivering food to over 26 London boroughs. Every £1 donated to City Harvest allows these vans to deliver 4 meals. Rises in fuel prices, combined with increased demand due to food price inflation, are having a major impact on our charity, and we need support, now more than ever, to keep getting the right food to the right people at the right time.

Access to Free Fruit & Veg is Keeping Families Going

Elizabeth House Community Centre, N5

“From speaking to our residents, we know that people are stressed. They’re concerned about the Autumn, and so are we.” 

The cost-of-living crisis has become a great source of anxiety for many, especially the families Elizabeth House supports weekly. Roshni, Community Coordinator, explains how Elizabeth House has become so much more than a food hub, but a real centre for residents to access support and community.

Sustainably Navigating the Cost of Living Crisis

Granville Community Kitchen, NW6

“People are crying out to us” – 

Leslie Barson, the co-founder of Granville Community Kitchen, Kilburn, tells City Harvest of the challenges the community kitchen faces as the need for free food rises amidst a cost of living crisis. Inflation has meant that people are in desperate situations, but Leslie believes that the way forward is a sustainable food co-operative, as well as their Good Food Box scheme, helping to decrease reliance on emergency food aid and support low-income families in a more sustainable way.

Refugee Charity Supports Anyone in Need

South London Refugee Association, SW16

SLRA supports people with no recourse to public funding in the area, providing them with cooked community meals and parcels to take home. Whilst SLRA started by providing refuge and food for the homeless, the organisation now helps to support families and individuals who are struggling at the hands of the cost-of-living crisis.

We would like to do more, and can do more, but we need help from the people who can afford to support us.


For every £1 donated, City Harvest can deliver 4 meals.

Our Drivers

City Harvest employs 17 drivers to drive our fleet of 17 vans, each of whom has charities they deliver food to once or twice a week. Part of the family with many of the charities they deliver to, City Harvest drivers build trust and respect, keeping us aware of what our charities need and are experiencing. 

“The pandemic tripled the number of people facing food poverty. Lockdown lifted, but the numbers didn’t decline, they plateaued. Now we are seeing the numbers dramatically increase again, and when October hits, the number of new faces queuing at food banks will be disheartening.” City Harvest

Alwyn + David

“These men [Alwyn + David] have been making deliveries to us each Tuesday come rain, snow, wind or whatever for over two years We are truly grateful for their outstanding dedication and sheer hard work – they are remarkable ambassadors for City Harvest”

Centre Manager, Edward Woods Community Centre


“Jade’s really pleased when she can source what we need, it’s amazing she’s really thinks about us and our needs – and it makes her so happy to do it! She stays in touch, letting us know when she’ll be there. It is always a pleasure to see her – she really is someone who wants to help and we are always just so happy to see her.”

Primrose Hill Community Association Camden

Food Poverty

Sky News Italia – City Harvest

Sky News Italia – City Harvest

Sky News Italia speaks to City Harvest food charity's Head of Community Impact, Marco Torquati, about the startling levels of food poverty amongst Londoners this Christmas, and to CEO, Sarah...

Nourishing Children: Parkfield Primary School

Nourishing Children: Parkfield Primary School

City Harvest charity partner, Parkfield Primary School's Community Boxes have been life  lines for families in need. #feedthefuture “We’re supposed to be here to teach children to read and write,...

Nourishing Children: Cyril Jackson Primary School

Nourishing Children: Cyril Jackson Primary School

City Harvest food recipient, Cyril Jackson primary, feeds families and children in crisisHunger is now on the rampage. It marches ever closer, penetrating our communities and schools, even breaching...

City Speaks Up: Let Me Play

City Speaks Up: Let Me Play

Hammersmith-based action group feeds kids in the holidays.City Harvest free food recipient, LMP Action CIC, combats holiday hunger and the other disproportionate effects of the cost-of-living crisis...


What is the food poverty?

Food poverty is the inability to afford or access healthy nutritious food, meaning people barely survive, let alone thrive.

What causes food poverty?

Food poverty is often caused by a change in someone’s circumstances such as the loss of a job, illness, or as we are increasingly seeing, low wages not covering the soaring cost of living. Healthy food is often the first thing to be cut from people’s stretched budgets. With the rising cost of energy, we are seeing people are already avoiding ‘high energy’ foods which require long boiling or cooking times. There are new concerns and worries for us to consider when delivering what people need.


Before COVID 1 in 4 people living in London would face food poverty in their lifetime, with 400,000 children living in food poverty.