Mutual Aid in Northwest London

We received the following article from a supporter of Granville Community Kitchen.

Support Granville Community Kitchen!

Granville Community Kitchen (GCK) is a small organisation with one part time grower and ten long term volunteers.  Before the crisis, one of our projects for the past five years, was running a free and halal community meal on Friday nights where people who come would have a hot meal, share the week’s news and receive surplus food. We had been serving up to 100 people a night with about 150 meals. People took food away to neighbours and friends and for themselves for the week. We distributed about 30 pallets of surplus food.  We are now (June 7) giving food aid, cooked food, toiletries, cleaning products and emergency white goods and bikes to over 500 people a week in Brent, Harrow, Westminster and Camden, with 10 delivery routes and over 20 regular volunteers. We get 60-80 pallets twice a week although the surplus food is dropping due to high demand from many organisations. We have had to ask for donations of food from mutual aid groups to make up the difference. It is important to us that we give food to whoever asks. It is not easy to ask for help and we feel it is no one’s place to judge who is in need and who is not.

Even now as restrictions are loosened we expect our numbers to continue to rise.  Many people are in service industry jobs or self-employed, for example, drivers or care workers, and these jobs are hard hit. This creates a new layer of people in financial difficulties who before the virus were self-reliant.  Now on top of those who were in difficulties due to ill health, age or low income we now have to add the newly unemployed.

GCK is playing a key role in responding to the coronavirus shut-in and the impacts it is having on people and communities in regards to access to food for vulnerable groups. We face extreme difficulties due to a lack of funding and volunteers, increased demand and a reduction in surplus food supply due to a disruption in the food supply chain and more demand.

At the same time we are looking to the future to reimagining a new food system. One of the main lessons of this period has to be our food system is rotten. We were dependent on heavily processed, high sugar and trans fat edible concoctions that travel many miles to get to us and whose price does not reflect the damage done to human health and the environment. This has to change. Through Granville Community Kitchen Good Food Project we hope to show an example of change. We will be starting to offer low cost veg boxes to low income families of culturally appropriate food bought direct from farmers or from ethical wholesalers. The project also has an education element with young people and long term unemployed able to train in food production from seed to plate. We will offer more and more seasonal and culturally appropriate food direct from farmers outside London, grow more food in a highly urbanised setting and train growers and food producers for the future. This is not about big business but about supporting human health, creativity and the earth – good food grown by us for us.

(For an in-depth look at food and capitalism see the new ACG pamphlet).