JRS UK receives and distributes food parcels donated by Tower Hamlets Food Bank. The bulk donation happens every 6 months; giving the team a chance to gather enough supplies to organise and distribute evenly between our refugee friends, who come to our Day Centre each Thursday.
This partnership with First Love Foundation started back in December 2016. For many of our friends, who are victims of hostile environment policies and are destitute as a result, knowing when their next meal will be or where it will come from can be both challenging and worrisome. For those who are street homeless, cooking utensils are unobtainable and their ability to make hot food, almost impossible.
The food that First Love Foundation donates to JRS UK, helps all those who come to our centre. The food packs contain a variety of non-perishable, ambient foods that can be eaten cold or hot – depending on the situation of the individual. Last week the packs contained fruit squash, mixed beans, tinned potatoes, peas, pasta and curry sauces, tuna, soups, pasta, rice, and much more. Once sorted evenly into bags, the food is ready to be singed off and handed out at the centre, alongside toiletries.
One of our friends said, when seeing four tins of returned Heinz Tomato Soup exclaimed: “Heinz is my favourite, I love making my pasta sauces with it”, whilst another found her son’s preferred Korma sauce amongst other bits.
On the day of collection, our friends have a chance to go through their food parcel and take out anything that might not appeal to them or be of use. They can also take as much as they desire from a crate of things others do not want – with baked beans being typically picked up by those with children, of whom enjoy such items at school.
During the day centre, our friends can choose from a selection of breakfast cereals, teas, coffees, patisseries, and biscuits. This is then followed by a hot nutritious meal prepared by our volunteers. The meal is created from scratch with food donated from the Food Bank and other generous donors, and additional ingredients supplemented by JRS.
Sharing meals at JRS UK is a key component of our mission to accompany and serve our refugee friends. They give us a chance to encounter the other; to sit alongside our friends and to share a moment in time. Through partnerships with organisations and foodbanks, such as with Pret, Waitrose, and First Love Foundation, we are able to respond to both the emotional and physical needs of our friends and provide practical and life-sustaining gifts.
Could you be our Volunteer Chef’s Assistant, and help prepare and serve over 100 hot meals to our refugee friends each week?