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National Food Service London

Together, we are building a better food system in our community! One where everyone in our community has choice over how they access, grow, cook, share and eat food.

We are a collective of Londoners, food lovers and community activists and organisers. We believe that together we can build a food system that is sustainable, resilient and fundamentally organised by the same community that it benefits.

Our vision is for interconnected, interdependent community self-organised food and land-use action across London, which ensures everyone has autonomy over how they access, produce and consume food.

National Food Service London started with an emergency food provision service in North Hackney, organised by local residents in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Since April 2020, we have cooked and delivered over 20,000 nutritious, tasty vegetarian and vegan meals plus grocery packages to people in need of access to food.

Whilst we continue to support people in crisis, we are working towards a food system which eliminates food insecurity and centres the freedom to choose and the celebration of diversity of food from land to plate for everyone in all London’s communities.

We operate with the values of mutual aid, solidarity and reciprocity. We are a sociocratic organisation, guided by co-operative principles. Members of our community contribute through time, energy, skills, art, social connections and donations of items, food and money.

We stand in solidarity with all members of our community.

We are committed to listening, reading, questioning, reviewing and learning. We are committed to decolonising ourselves and our organisation. We are working to build a queer, anti-racist, anti-ableist, intersectional feminist food justice organisation.

We have several initiatives we are working on currently that span education, community organising, food provision and tech development.

Join us if you are interested in any of them!

 

Projects

North Hackney Emergency Food Provision

National Food Service London cooks and delivers 500 healthy vegetarian and vegan meals per week. Our kitchen and delivery hub is currently based in Upper Clapton, E5.

We operate a hotline for anyone in the local area to self-refer to our service. We do not means-test. Everyone is welcome. We also offer an opt-in well-being support. Please call 0208 706 0970 if you or anyone you know is in need of food support.

>Our non-contact volunteers deliver meals and grocery packages to local community hubs and services, as well as directly to the doors of self-isolated, shielded and low-income families and individuals in North Hackney. Our activities fully comply with COVID-19 NHS guidelines.

This service is free or contribute-as-you-can for families and individuals, or service providers supporting people local to North Hackney. Members of our community contribute through time, energy, skills, art, social connections and donations of items, food and money.

Community Cooks Programme

The Community Cooks programme is for local food lovers to gain confidence and skills in cooking nutritious, delicious, big batch community meals. It's all about education, working together, skill-sharing, inspiring one another and cooking tasty food for our neighbours!

Participants take part in a Cook Day facilitated by professional chefs, four co-designed workshops, and a community garden visit. In addition they complete their Level 2 Food Hygiene and Safety certificate, and gain experience volunteering in community kitchens.

The programme is supported by the Community Cooks Handbook, an open-source resource developed by NFS London, which can be accessed here for free!

To register your interest in the Community Cooks Programme, sign up here. If you are a community centre or community kitchen and you are interested in hosting the programme, get in touch.

Community Wellbeing

One of our fundamental beliefs is of the interconnectedness of food with wellbeing, social connections and a sense of belonging.

While we are in a time where many people are forced to eat alone, we operate a Hotline as a listening space, which opens up deeper conversations and offers people the opportunity to share their knowledge, stories, pain and laughter. Just like sharing a meal in person, the Hotline is a way to build relationships between community members and link people with other forms of support. Through connections, we can create resilience and co-empowerment

Food Co-ops

We are proud to be working in partnership with neighbouring community groups and organisations and with our friends at Cooperation Town to support the establishment of sustainable alternatives to accessing food across London (and especially in Hackney!).

We don’t need supermarkets. We don’t need a capitalist food system. We know there are alternative models for accessing food out there that fill our cupboards for as little as £3 per week. And most of all, put us in control of the food we eat.

Our Community Food Organisers work with members to build their capacity and skills as ‘mobilisers’ in their neighbourhood. We connect neighbours and facilitate introductions that grow social connections and lay the foundation for establishing a food coop. We also support residents to access space for organising their food coops, for example community halls or youth clubs. This way we support people accessing our emergency food provision service to transition out of crisis and become more connected with their neighbours.

Interested in setting up a food coop with your neighbours? Would you like to see a community shop in your neighbourhood? Get in touch!

Community Food Growing

The Castle Garden has supplied us with Hackney organic produce, from salads to squashes throughout the pandemic. That’s 700kg of produce from April 2020 to April 2021! Not only this, we have delivered our peelings and veg cuttings from the kitchen to The Castle Garden to feed the worms and return all those good nutrients to the soil.

In this way, we close the loop. We create the shortest food loop possible in our pocket of Hackney. Hackney-grown, Hackney-cooked, Hackney-composted and Hackney-eaten.

There are many examples of incredible organisations working towards fairer food systems in London. Peri-urban farms (those in a transition zone between rural and urban) experiment with a variety of models that connect different types of knowledge, tools and methods. Worker cooperatives like OrganicLea take collective control over labour structures to create fair and dynamic systems. Sutton Community Farm runs a Community Supported Agriculture programme (CSA) which grows food for its members and works with local organisations to teach young people and disabled people about growing food. Growing Communities works as a ‘patchwork farm’ which joins smallholdings and urban farmers together to share skills and sell their produce via a popular Farmers’ Market.

When we fight for food justice, we fight for land access, environmental justice and racial justice too. For centuries there has been a systemic appropriation of land belonging to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) by White Europeans and their descendents. Much of what we consider sustainable agriculture, permaculture, and regenerative agriculture has its roots in the ways that Black and Indigenous people originally farmed land. There cannot be food justice without land justice. Land justice is racial justice.

Check out Landworkers’ Alliance and Land In Our Names to find out how you can join the fight for justice.

Several NFSL volunteers doing various cooking, packing, and delivery for emergency food provision

NFSL volunteers posing on some benches

We are hiring!

We are recruiting for a Hackney Food Roots Partnership Coordinator to facilitate the Hackney Food Roots partnership. Here is the Job Description. The deadline for the application is Sunday 13th June 23:59. 

We encourage applications from all sections of the community and in particular those who are currently under-represented at NFSL, including BPOC (Black and People of Colour and disabled candidates. We especially welcome applicants with lived experiences of food insecurity. We are committed to listening, reading, questioning, reviewing and learning.

How to apply

Email a CV and cover letter to hello@nationalfoodservicelondon.org. We accept cover letters in a range of formats, including written, audio recording and video recording. We ask that the cover letter in written form is no longer than 1 side of A4 and that an audio or video recording is no longer than 3 minutes.

We recommend that you detail the following in the cover letter:

  • Why would you like to deliver this project?
  • What skills and experiences do you have that would equip you to deliver this project?
  • Demonstrate your understanding and strong passion for food justice.

We endeavour to make this application process as accessible as possible; if you have any questions or requests that will support your application please contact hello@nationalfoodservicelondon.org.

Our Manifesto

  • Everyone deserves to have their food needs met, regardless of immigration status, class, race, age, ability, sex, gender or wealth.
  • Food needs cannot be met without understanding the wider context of why the current system devalues, ignores or fails many consumers.
  • Food sovereignty means creating dynamic governance – self-organising community structures which prioritise responsible production, acquisition, preparation, and shared consumption of food in a community.
  • Food justice will only be actualised when we ensure everyone has access to high-quality, affordable and nutrient-dense ingredients.
  • Social eating projects, pay-what-you-can / pay-as-you-feel enterprises, community food growing, and food cooperatives remove the cold transactions of consumerism, creating space for inclusive, alternative currencies and restoring dignity and solidarity with those who are otherwise excluded.
  • Social, food, climate, racial, gender and disability justice are not stand-alone concepts but entangled issues: One cannot be achieved without achieving all.
  • We must see surplus food as a free, abundant resource that symbolises socioeconomic inequality and industry inefficiency, rather than make a value judgment on its appearance.
  • We need to look at the entire lifecycle of food in order to understand how to achieve sovereignty. Currently, only a small window of existence is visible as it appears on shelves and in fridges.