WHAT MAKES LCC’S PROGRAMME FOR HAF SO UNIQUE?

The Legendary Community Club (LCC) was chosen, once again, to be one of Lewisham Council’s food providers for the Holiday, Activities and Food Programme (HAF). HAFs are locally coordinated programmes, financed by the central government (namely, the Department of Education), to support young people on Free School Meals (FSM) through the holiday periods.

Chicken/Chickpea Curry that was prepared and cooked for HAF

After three successful collaborations with Lewisham Council for the Easter, Summer and Christmas HAF 21, we are back for another Easter edition at our partnering school Torridon Primary, where we’ve gone above and beyond to ensure struggling young people in Lewisham, Southwark and Croydon have access to the best nutritious meals, all while incentivising a circular economy in the borough. Do you want to know more about what makes LCC’s approach to HAF so unique? Keep reading!

1. Healthy, balanced and nutritious — no shortcuts!

Since we started LCC in the pandemic summer of 2020, we made it our commitment that all the food we would distribute to families and young people would be healthy, balanced and nutritious. We know from studies, and from the lived experience of the families we support, that households struggling to make ends meet often cannot provide their children with fresh vegetables and fruit. Moreover, it can be hard to keep a healthy balance between macronutrients: where lean proteins can be expensive, foods high in saturated (e.g. butter) and transaturared (e.g. refined oils) fats are generally cheaper. What this means is that fighting food poverty is not just about correcting a lack of food, but also ensuring families and young people have access to all the nutrients they need to thrive! Thanks to our network of local business connections, especially Kismet Fruit & Veg, we have been able to complete another HAF using 5-star quality produce that made for delicious, balanced hot meals that more than meet the Department of Education’s nutritional guidelines.

Our meals are all based on the freshest veggies and herbs

2. We’re not do-gooders, we’re activists: our political commitment to the community

From the offset we realised that poverty is not an accident that can be solved with charity, but rather is an issue produced by an unfair economic system designed to ensure anyone can make it, but that not everyone can. So, while we focus on alleviating poverty through food distribution, we know that we need long-term solutions; this means that, while we avoid party-politics, we had to be political and campaign for structural policies that tackle poverty instead of making it worse. Being members of the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) has been fundamental in steering us in the right direction, and joining forces to demand an end to the government’s reliance on charities to solve problems the welfare state was created to address.

A big part of our activism, however, doesn’t happen just online. Since we know the root causes of poverty is the state-sanctioned unfair distribution of wealth, we thought: how can we start to address this? Our answer to this has been to use the funding we are given to foment a circular economy within our borough by investing in the community. For instance, for every HAF we hire young people to upskill them as freelance chefs and kitchen staff. After training, they prepare all the food that our local paid drivers then distribute — and we ensure everyone is paid a London Living Wage, since low wages are one of the things trapping the youth in generational poverty.

Not a lot of sugar, but loads of spice and everything nice

Moreover, we always try our best to get our produce from local businesses to ensure we are putting money back into our community. We know these are small gestures, but they do have a ripple effect, and it is important that as many of us commit to these actions to gain some power over how wealth is distributed in our country. In the words of Erol, the owner of Kismet Fruits & Veg: “It gives us such a big push to work even harder as we are grateful to work with a great company like LCC […] All in all we just always want to make you guys happy with our services and always strive to meet your demand cause we know it’s a great opportunity for us”.

The past two years have been a journey where we learned by trial and error, but always guided by a larger objective: to be a catalyst in Lewisham’s struggle against poverty. As we experimented, we developed a unique model that has proven it is possible to deliver great, nutritious meals, while investing in the local community, and upskilling our young people to prepare them for an increasingly more competitive job market. We have learned so much from projects around London, and we hope to continue learning and growing so that we can keep giving back to our community.

Do you want to know more about how we prepare HAF? Keep an eye out for our social media where we will post a HAF Making-Of video soon!

By Ines Silva

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