Community kitchens cook on

Rowan Constantinou-Stygal cooking in Canon's Farm Kitchen, Leytonstone
Rowan Constantinou-Stygal cooking in Canon’s Farm Kitchen, Leytonstone

Report by Nupur Trivedi

Community kitchens are continuing to provide hundreds of free hot meals a week to residents in need.

Mutual aid groups established in March at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic have delivered tens of thousands of meals across Waltham Forest, and although lockdown is now over, demand remains high.

Many local cafes and churches have allowed mutual aid volunteers to use their kitchen spaces to cook meals each week. St Andrew’s Church in Colworth Road, Leytonstone, opened as a community kitchen for the community. Vicar Paul Kennington told the Echo: “St Andrews Church has a long history of community outreach and we were delighted to enter into a partnership with Leytonstone Mutual Aid and support their excellent work.”

Businesses such as Old Station Yard Cafe in Wood Street also started cooking meals to distribute through mutual aid networks. Owner Enitan Akinde told the Echo: “I have always wanted to be supportive of our community and find there is no better way of doing that than through food. I see it as a great opportunity to join forces with an existing infrastructure and happily do my bit.”

Food for the Forest (FFTF) launched as an offshoot from the mutual aid network. The organisation has so far helped to connect the new community kitchens with surplus produce providers such as the Hornbeam in Bakers Arms, as well as raising funds through donations and facilitating food hygiene training for kitchen volunteers. FFTF is looking at long-term solutions to hot meals provision. Co-ordinator Rowan Constantinou-Stygal said: “With furlough coming to an end in October and job losses expected, people’s access to food and essentials will be a lot more shaky.”

One of the projects FFTF is assisting with is the creation of a new community cafe, The Farm, in Leytonstone. It is set to open on Monday 7th September and will operate from Canon’s Farm Kitchen in Cann Hall Road. Neighbours Caz Crowe and Lula Abdilleh will run The Farm together and hope to also offer community-sourced services to those in need, such as help with CV writing.

Caz told the Echo: “It’s a space where everyone can feel safe. It’s by the community, for the community.”

Find your nearest mutual aid group:
Visit walthamforestmutualaid.org.uk

Donate to Food for the Forest or sign up to volunteer:
Email foodfortheforest@gmail.com
Visit opencollective.com/food-for-the-forest