Entering the Hollingdean Community Centre, I am greeted by four lovely women filling paper bags with cooked food and snacks. Anna, the organiser, set up Hot Food for Hollingdean out of desperation for something constructive and meaningful to do during lockdown. She normally runs the World Food project, which has been around for a long time. They offer affordable cookery courses for everyone, sharing food and learning other skills. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 they could no longer run these classes, so that’s when the idea for Hot Food for Hollingdean was born.
Anna cooks nutritious tasty meals with the ingredients she gets from FareShare a day before they get delivered around Hollingdean by volunteers on a Wednesday. Rachel, one of the delivery drivers, got involved after seeing a post on the local Mutual Aid group. She brings the food bags to people all over Hollingdean who are delighted to receive it, saying they always look forward to Wednesdays.
At the peak they had about 60 deliveries – now they have gone down to 40, as young people in temporary accommodation no longer receive deliveries. Beneficiaries are mostly people who are shielding, or vulnerable people with underlying health conditions. Norma, another volunteer, knows most of the beneficiaries – she helped to spread the word about Hot Food for Hollingdean, when her former teacher Anna started the service. Sometimes Norma brings produce from the community garden she runs to cook with in addition to all the things FareShare delivers.
Hot Food for Hollingdean has been going for 15 weeks and they will keep going as long as they can. Anna notes “Hollingdean needs this Covid or no Covid. Hollingdean is definitely a food desert, we haven’t got a single green grocer in the area.” Anna is looking for options to carry on with deliveries after lockdown to ensure people in Hollingdean get at least one nutritious meal per week.
The need for this service becomes even more evident when hearing from the people who receive some of the food: “Today is our favourite day – the kids love the food, and it gives Mama a day to rest”, Anna reads one of the many positive messages she has received in the past weeks from beneficiaries.
One of the beneficiaries, whilst picking up his food, said: “this has really been amazing.” His wife has health problems so getting this food has made a huge difference during lockdown money-wise, but also it’s one day he doesn’t have to worry about food and can spend a bit more time taking care of his wife and four children. Feeding six people is difficult as it is, but lockdown has made it even more difficult. “Anna’s food is always beautiful, every week it’s something different but always so tasty and nutritious too. It’s very healthy and the kids love it. Thank you!”
Hot Food for Hollingdean demonstrates how a group of dedicated people can make a big impact in the community. FareShare Sussex is proud to work with such amazing projects that make a difference in Brighton and beyond.