Chef Lecturer Vince Kelly was inspired to take action following a sharp rise in the number of people using foodbanks during the pandemic and food hunger being highlighted by Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign.
The project will see BSc (Hons) Culinary Health and Nutrition students devise easy to follow recipes that will be printed on festive cards also featuring a QR code linking to videos showing how to make the dishes.
The cards will be distributed in food parcels by volunteers from four foodbanks supported by The Trussell Trust at St Margaret the Queen in Streatham Hill, with students being encouraged to help.
The four foodbanks at Norwood and Brixton, Clapham Park, Vauxhall and Waterloo came together to use the church as a base after adopting a delivery only service during the pandemic.
If successful, the college hopes to run similar projects with students on other Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses at WestKing to support more foodbanks.
The college also plans to launch free cooking courses to teach people basic culinary skills and how to make simple, nutritional dishes on a budget.
Vince, who has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years, said: “It’s a sad reality that there are many starving families living in the UK who are struggling to put food on the table. The pandemic has exacerbated this further and led to me thinking that there must be a better way we can reduce food deprivation.
“There are many culinary educational centres throughout the UK, with at least 16 in London alone. Alongside volunteering students and contacts in hospitality, we are well-placed to help provide meals out of term-time for vulnerable schoolchildren and anyone else who may need it.”
The Trussell Trust, which supports a network of more than 1,200 foodbanks in the UK, has forecast a 61 per cent rise in the number of food parcels being handed out between October and December.
The charity says families are the worst hit with nearly two in five households needing to use a foodbank. Half of people using its foodbanks at the start of the pandemic had never used one before.
Rebekah Gibson, Waterloo Foodbank Manager, said: “The need for our foodbanks is higher than ever. People are really struggling and anything to support them will make a huge difference.
“We’re really pleased that the students at WestKing will be providing us with recipe cards to help those in need this Christmas cook healthy, delicious meals.”
Vince has had his own experience of living and supporting a family while on a low income when his catering business in Ireland collapsed in 2011 in the aftermath of the last recession.
He said: “I have had my own personal struggle with feeding my young family but was always too proud to ask for help. I have only just recovered over the past couple of years thanks to the support of family, friends and work colleagues.
“Not everyone is that lucky. That is why I cannot sit back and watch this happen.”
WestKing students at the college’s three centres in King’s Cross, Victoria and Soho are also donating food and other essential items to a foodbank at The Selby Centre in Tottenham.
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