The Food Communities Bringing Us Joy During COVID-19
This piece was written by one of our Community Ambassadors, Tara Rudd, Content Creator and Food Activist. Find out more about Tara here.
From hospitality empowerment to intergenerational organisations protecting London’s historical (and vital) food spaces from gentrification; a grassroots farming collective reconnecting Black and racialised communities with the land, to women chefs urging you to get your veg from migrant-led, independent grocery shops!
This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are lots of amazing people out there doing incredible things to uplift our communities. This one is London-focused as that's the area Community Ambassador (Tara, writing this) is connected to. Like the 21 POC-owned publications, we hope it inspires you to get behind them, amplify your communities and think-back to where food actually comes from.
1. Chefs In Schools - Improving the health of children by transforming school meals and food education. Chefs In Schools celebrates and taps into the incredible talent and diverse heritage of those working in the kitchens!
2. MADE UP KITCHEN - “By the people… for the people”.
(formerly) ‘The People’s Kitchen’ began as an initiative transforming food waste into community feasts and now provides emergency response supplies for those in need. They opened their first permanent community space last year in the Royal Docks! With the vision to build a community hub (follow their journey @MadeUpCafe).
"Profits from our space will feed into beautiful community sessions and projects where our diversity can be celebrated and people can buy for good".
They are currently looking for volunteers to grow with them from carpenters to Baristas to admin [see more].
“This is not aid. This is change. We are building grassroots partnerships, providing culturally appropriate food, feeding mental wellbeing and step by step, are shifting the structures to create better ways”.
3. Made In Hackney
A Community Cookery School in East London supplying community meals, vegan cooking classes and raising awareness for matters like racial equality and the Farmers Protest through their platform.
4. Be Enriched - A Food Charity working in Wandsworth and Southwark, also behind the new #LdnFoodBus Project. The London Food Bus will be travelling around the borough serving up cooked food and fresh produce to the community at a reasonable price! Find out more.
5. The Black Project - A one woman band in East Sussex! “Celebrating and spreading awareness of Black Britain and the wider diaspora”, and currently delivering food packages around the area, to those in need. Read this to get more insight from the woman behind it all.
6. Sufran London - A Food Bank in NW London set up in 2013. Based on St. Raphael’s Estate, "Brent’s most disadvantaged neighbourhood", their Community Hub provides a life-line for people in crisis with the food, support and empowers them to learn new skills to find work and become financially stable.
7. Counter Talk - "Building an empowered food community". Founded by Ravneet Gill, pastry chef and hospitality activist who, since 2019, has been empowering the industry through career advice, job opportunities, and networking on her platform. After experiencing discrimination in the kitchen for many years she decided to do something about it in order to protect others from facing the same issues.
8. Be Inclusive Hospitality - Representation Matters, especially when it’s racialised communities who make up the backbone of one of our most brilliant industries. [See Riaz Phillips recent blog on Systemic Inequalities Experienced by Black People Working in the Food Industry’]. This platform provides mentors and support for anyone in the industry, with the aim to drive education, accelerate racial equality and grow stronger together.
9. Empower Workers - A collective of lawyers, workers and activists all fighting to make the industry a safer, a more sustainable environment to work in and making sure workers rights don’t go unheard.
10. Slinger Staff - Very much in-the-brew, but we can’t wait to see it launch after lockdown. Founded by Theo Lee-Houston (who spoke on our For the Love of Food Panel), Slinger is an app connecting workers and bosses in a way that champions diversity and workers rights. [Sign up here].
11. Dyne In - Bit of a curve ball! Founded by the wonderful Oooota Sebastian to give back to those restaurants who have had to close since COVID-19. Even if just in collective memory and sentiment - the art of cooking and savouring with each other, online, can be a powerful ode. There’s always something we can do to show value.
12. Latin Elephant - Protecting the memory of the community and businesses recently destroyed in the demolishing of Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre to make way for luxury flats (read more here). My Elephant Story is an online project, distilling and continuing to celebrate the community memories as a form of resistance - inviting people to share videos, photos, stories of what it meant to them and gathering it on this website. It’s beautiful.
13. Nijjormanush / #SaveBrickLane - A community of Bengalis and Bangladeshis from the UK who believe in radical solutions to issues affecting us, and to save their spaces in London from gentrification. “These are the histories that are being wiped away by gentrification and social cleansing. During the 1970s, Bangladeshi residents literally lay down their own bodies in order to protect Brick Lane from the march of white supremacists. This is no different. We now need to recover that same spirit”. Watch this video and follow to support.
14. Save Nour / #FightTheTower - A platform amplifying ways to fight gentrification and #ReclaimBrixton. Born out of a fight to Save Nour, a local grocery store in Brixton Market, which won! - and now trying to save others. A testament to community resilience, showing that if people pull together and speak loud enough we can make change.
15. Save Ridley Road - A campaign to stop Hackney Council destroying this Historic Market in the name of regeneration. “Ridley Road is more than just a market. It is the embodiment of Hackney’s diversity and in particular it is essential to the London Afro-Caribbean community. Any new investment must be in this community’s interests. A threat to one is a threat to all”. Follow for ways to help and get involved and watch their documentary.
16. Save Latin Village - Fighting against the demolition and gentrification of the Latin Village in Tottenham. After Covid, the market has not been allowed to reopen meaning trader livelihoods have been destroyed. But Save Latin Village continues to fight and to provide a space for the community - with online fiestas, protests, and discussion panels about gentrification. They have just announced a new crowdfunding campaign for a Community Resource Hub for market traders at Wards Corner in Tottenham! It will bring the market building “back into temporary use, providing access to crucial services to Latin American, BME, low income and other communities affected by COVID-19 and other longstanding inequalities”. Read more and support it here.
18. Land in Our Names - A Black-led, grassroots collective committed to reparative justice in Britain by securing land for Black people and People of Colour. They are committed to a deep healing of the colonial-rooted trauma that separates us from the land. "In the UK, Black and Racialised communities are 60% less likely to be able to access green space and natural environments than their white counterparts. Unequal access to land is particularly stark in Britain, where land ownership is often inherited, and concentrated into hands of a few wealthy (white) individuals and families".
19. The Healing Table - Creating a safe and healing space for women to come together through food. Writer, Kareem Arthur runs a fortnightly CookClub [next one on 24th Feb]. She also tells stories of some amazing women through her interviews, hosts workshops and shows you where her local food shops are too. “My writing looks into the memories that food holds and how the food we eat can shape our identity exploring the emotional connections that we have with food and cooking” - [an interview with Vittles.] Sign up to her Newsletter here.
20. Brown Girls Food Club - "Building a community of BIPOC women by eating our way through local, minority-owned spaces", and virtual meetups (based in the US). Follow and get hungry! Website launching very soon.
21. Vittles - ‘A food newsletter for novel times’. Vittles was created in response to the pandemic. Food writer, Jonathan Nunn [see his latest piece how Deliveroo is changing the restaurant industry], saw that there wasn't enough representation in media that platformed voices of those people with the actual, in-depth food knowledge and lived in experience so invited those who did, to submit and be heard. Sign up here.
22. Join Diaspo - Home cooked recipes "taught by those who know best". From Aicha's Moroccan pancakes to Kau Kaab's Masoor Dal to Lilian's Bhukarian Pilav, Diaspo is more than just online cooking classes. It was set up by Harish in Feb 2020 to connect generations through heritage, empower the teachers and learners, long-term and give them a platform to be celebrated.
23. Hackney Chinese Community Service - Potluck meetups, Lunar New Year Celebrations, Intergenerational craft making and inviting those outside their culture to join in and learn too - Hackney Chinese Community was set up in 1985 by local Chinese residents to offer welfare and support for the Chinese and South-East Asian Community. 36 years later they offer services including a Hackney Chinese School, Elderly Luncheon Club, Mental Health Support, Youth Club, Singing and Dancing - and have kept this up during lockdown, virtually. Get a more personal window into the community here.
24. Migrateul - Migrateful run cookery classes led by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants to empower them on their journey into integration. They are currently looking to open a permanent cookery school in ClerkenWell (donate here!) And have been doing deliveries and Socially Distanced Dinner Parties’ throughout the pandemic.