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St Luke’s Food Hub provides food with thought

The Food Hub at St Luke’s began in crisis and its work remains relevant

By Oliver Bennet

Three people stand behind cartons of food
Scarlett, Peace and Kate helping out at St Luke’s Food Hub. Photo: Oliver Bennett

With artichokes, peppers and fridges full of high-quality ready meals on offer, the Food Hub at St Luke’s on Central Street could be an upscale farmers’ market. In fact, it is one of the food distribution hubs that has acquired a new necessity in the cost of living crisis, feeding the community in this part of Finsbury.

“The Food Hub started during Covid because in the pandemic everything was closed,” says Food Hub manager, Tsedal Menghistu. “So we responded to the needs of the community. People started coming and we began distributing food twice a week.”

The Hub continued, and is now remains open two days a week, working on an appointment system with the people in the area of benefit, and is available for each recipient for eight weeks, for people who are struggling on low incomes and with no recourse to public funds.

“Following Covid, the trouble was that the need didn’t change,” says Tsedal. “The impact of the pandemic was closely followed by the cost of living crisis and people then found themselves struggling with the huge cost of food.”

With food inflation at highs of up to 17 per cent, the effect on those with lower and even middle incomes has been dire. Tsedal says that the group has “increased enormously and we want to reach as many people as we can. We don’t want to have a fixed group of people using it and we don’t want waiting lists because we see it as a holistic support.”

At St Luke’s, the partners include the Felix Trust and City Harvest, alongside other donations from companies, organisations and partners and local people. Members who attend the food hub can then move on to join St Luke’s Food Co-op. Here they contribute a certain amount of money and buy in bulk.

Halima (not her real name), who moved to EC1 over a year ago with her daughter, says that she has found great strength in both the Food Hub and the Co-op. “It’s been a big help,” she says. “We see how much we need in the group and then divide it. It has really been a very big help in my and my daughter’s life. Also, the food quality is very good with lots of fruit and vegetables, oil and rice. It’s given us a fresh start, like moving into a new home.”

Another aspect of the Food Hub and the Food Co-op is that they are sociable, adds Tsedal. “People can meet and come out of isolation as well as learn skills. As well as the food, we have also had money workshops to do with budgeting and cooking lessons. So it offers emotional and financial support, skills development and employment support, with children and parents working together, and specialist classes like cooking for diabetes.” As to how long the Hub and Co-op will last, as Tsedal says, “We are continuing and we will be here until people stop needing us.”


This article is from the June/July 2023 edition of EC1 Echo. Click here to download your copy now

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