Many of us take the easy availability of a hot meal for granted, but more and more people in the UK are facing challenges accessing the food they need, or find themselves eating alone, especially during this time of year. Alongside the increasing issue of food poverty, the current cost of living crisis and housing challenges in the UK have resulted in an alarming increase in homelessness. Despite being the world's sixth-largest economy, people in the UK are still grappling with this issue, with large numbers of people forced into sleeping rough or sofa surfing.
In response to these pressing issues, Mission Kitchen teamed up with FoodCycle, a national community dining charity dedicated to preventing hunger and loneliness. FoodCycle challenged Mission Kitchen members to create innovative, hot, and healthy meals for Thames Reach, a local homeless shelter, using surplus ingredients provided by City Harvest, a London-based food charity that redistributes free surplus food, contributing to 1.2 million meals each month.
‘It was so fun to host a Food Invention Challenge with the Mission Kitchen team and some of their members. Mission Kitchen in Vauxhall has been home to our Food Invention Challenges since 2021 - it’s such a brilliant space and wonderful to be surrounded by food businesses who are aligned with our aims as a charity.’ – Jess Phillimore, Corporate Partnerships Manager at FoodCycle
FoodCycle is the only national charity that serves nourishing community meals, using surplus food, to hungry and lonely people. They collaborate with corporates to host these invention challenges at Mission Kitchen, right below their HQ at the Food Exchange. The surplus food is then distributed to local shelters, ensuring that hungry and lonely individuals receive nutritious meals. Over the past year, approximately 38 food invention challenges have taken place at Mission Kitchen, with a special one held for MK members leading up to Christmas—a time when communities often come together to support those in less fortunate circumstances.
Last month, MasterChef: The Professionals finalist and Michelin-trained chef, Danilo Cortellini, hosted a special supper club during International Italian Cuisine Week in aid of FoodCycle, raising £3,000 to support FoodCycle’s community meals.
I have a passion for managing food waste, that's why I got involved – I love what they're doing at FoodCycle. The amount of food we've made from the redistributed ingredients that could have gone to waste will benefit at least 15 people with hot meals. It's great and everybody can get involved in something like this and make the world a better place. Roseanne, Mission Kitchen Member
The surplus ingredients, sourced from City Harvest, ranged from fresh fruits and vegetables to canned goods and dry ingredients like flour, which allowed for an innovative culinary experience, repurposing ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste.
The dishes created during the challenge were a collaborative effort, including a Vietnamese salad by MK members Felix (Bahn Mi nen) and Pauline (Marie & Marcelle), a vegetarian Kedgeree by Anu and Rashma (RockIT), and a delightful Berry Crumble by Roseanne (Ro's Kitchen) and MK Community Manager, Amy. Each dish showcased the unique talents and creativity of the Mission Kitchen community, coming together to contribute to a shared cause.
The cook-up united Mission Kitchen members and staff, to create a three-course meal in approximately 2.5 hours to be distributed to local homeless shelter, Thames Reach. This effort not only supported FoodCycle in continuing to serve healthy meals to hungry and lonely people in communities across the country but also illustrates the positive impact of Mission Kitchen's partnership with FoodCycle, and underscores the power of local initiatives in addressing broader societal challenges.
UP FOR THE CHALLENGE?
Get involved by contacting FoodCycle to organise a Food Invention Challenge for your team: firstname.lastname@example.org