The Evening Standard’s Food For London Now campaign achieved lift-off yesterday when the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium became the first community hub to open as part of an ambitious pan-London initiative to deliver surplus food to vulnerable Londoners.
As the total raised by our appeal leapt by £300,000 in 24 hours to £850,000, the stadium’s underground “pitch pocket”, usually used to store the retractable grass pitch, was transformed into a production line reminiscent of a war effort.
It began yesterday just after midday when our appeal partner, The Felix Project, delivered 1,800kg of produce, including fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, milk, bread, porridge, pasta, pre-prepared soups and ready meals. Dozens of volunteers wearing masks, latex gloves and high-vis vests stood two metres apart behind trestle tables brought in from local schools and began to prepare individual food parcels.
These would later be delivered to the doorsteps of poor, elderly and vulnerable residents of Haringey, as identified on the council’s database, as well as to the homes of local children eligible for free school meals.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy said: “As a club, we have always been clear about our commitment to the wider community — and never has this been more important than it is now. We are immensely proud of the efforts of everybody involved in the fight against Covid-19 and see today as just the start of what we can do as a club to assist.”
A Haringey council spokesman told the Standard that 150 of the borough’s most vulnerable families would get food parcels delivered yesterday. Production will be ramped up from today to several thousand food parcels daily.
The packers were council employees transferred from non-priority services and volunteers from Edible London, a local charity tackling food poverty.
The spokesman added that a second Haringey hub, located at Alexandra Palace, had also become operational yesterday, and that it would be used to supply food to borough residents with severe underlying health problems in self-isolation as part of the Government’s Covid-19 “shielded” category.
Joseph Ejiofor, leader of Haringey council, said: “I’m inspired by the generosity of our community who have stepped up to help so quickly. We have staff and volunteers working tirelessly at our two food redistribution centres, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Alexandra Palace, alongside our voluntary sector partners, Edible London.
“Working together we’re ensuring food gets to households who need it most. With more volunteers, we hope to support thousands, so please get in touch if you can help.”
Richard McCafferty, a self-employed business owner who carried out the first Felix delivery, said: “I started volunteering for Felix nine months ago helping two days a week, but since the outbreak I’m doing a five-day-a-week shift. It’s good to see Spurs, the council, Felix and the Standard joining forces to get food to people in need and I am proud to do my part.”
Donations to our appeal poured in yesterday, including £160,000 from the Duke of Westminster through his Westminster Foundation, a substantial pledge from Burberry, and £25,000 from Two Magpies Fund, a non-profit helping women who have experienced abuse. And more than £20,000 was pledged by 350 members of the public via our Virginmoneygiving page.
Rani Nagra of the Westminster Foundation said: “As one of many initiatives we are undertaking to support families through this crisis, we’re delighted to support The Felix Project.”