This is my son Felix, who died suddenly from Meningitis in 2014. In early 2015 I was looking for a charitable activity which could commemorate him. Felix was full of compassion for those who didn’t have his advantages, and what stuck in my memory was an incident at a boys’ football tournament six years ago, when Felix had been upset to discover that almost none of the opposing team of 10-year-old boys from South London had had anything to eat that day. When a friend told me about the Oxford Food Bank, I realised that children not adults were the most obvious casualties of food poverty. As an entrepreneur I was impressed by how the Oxford Food Bank model was able to distribute £20 of fresh food, which would otherwise go to waste, for every £1 which they raised. It was such an obviously good idea that I decided it needed to be applied here in London.
Before Justin contacted us, David Cairns and I ran the Oxford Food Bank. We started it because we felt we needed to do something about those who simply weren’t able to feed themselves and their families. The waste of so much perfectly edible food right across the food chain, from producer to wholesaler to retailer, never made any sense to us. We realised that addressing food waste to counter food poverty was an obvious solution to two problems. We founded the Oxford Food Bank in 2009 and started making deliveries in our own cars, taking fresh food from anyone who would give it to us and delivering it to charities in and around Oxford. The idea soon took off, and by the time Justin got in touch, the Oxford Food Bank was delivering 500 tonnes of food each year to over 60 local charities.
It amazes me that so many people go hungry in London, one of the richest cities on earth. There are others who simply don’t have the means to cook proper meals for themselves or their families. And then there are the people for whom meals can be a joyless and solitary experience. The elderly, the mentally ill and physically disabled, for example. We want our project to address the social exclusion felt by these people, as well as feeding those who can’t provide for themselves or their families. Hot meals, cooked with our fresh food, in a cheerful, communal setting, is the common factor among so many of the charities we supply. In turn we are delighted to help the charities save on their food bills. The end result is that it is that everyone benefits from something that would go to waste.
Since January 2016 I’ve been getting The Felix Project up and running from our first depot in Park Royal, West London. My interest in food waste started to grow when I studied for a degree in Global Health and Humanitarian Relief and then an MSc in Nutrition for Global Health. At the Felix Project I work with some of the leading supermarkets and wholesalers, including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencer. I’ve learned that providing a reliable way for big stores to donate all their edible surplus food in one pick up is good for them as well as for the people who receive that food. I really like the fact that we are providing fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and dairy products daily to charities, who turn them in to nutritious meals for the most disadvantaged Londoners. And I love that we are achieving this with our team of dedicated volunteers.
Whether you are a food supplier looking to reduce food waste or a volunteer who wants to help people in need, we’d love to hear from you.