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.
NFS London is collective of London-based food-lovers, cooks, growers, activists and organisers.
Our mission is to grow and nurture a world where communities face no barriers to creating their own sustainable, resilient, and diverse food systems. One that builds and celebrates capacity for autonomy over access and production of good food in all London’s communities.
We 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 24,000 nutritious, tasty vegetarian and vegan meals plus 3,120 grocery packages to people in need of access to food.
We dream of a world where emergency food provision is no longer necessary. We dream of a world where all communities mutually flourish by planting, growing, nurturing, harvesting, cooking, and sharing all the food we need to thrive.
Across all London’s communities, we aim to:
- Promote and support diverse community-led action for a more sustainable, resilient and just food system, while ensuring access and participation throughout.
- Connect and resource existing community food action and strengthen networks and partnerships.
- Increase access for all Londoners to affordable, nutritious, sustainable food.
- Increase access and availability of local public spaces and common land.
- Promote physical health, mental health and well-being, social connections and friendships for all Londoners.
- Support the landworkers regenerating London’s soil and increasing biodiversity.
We operate with the values of mutual aid, solidarity and reciprocity. 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, 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!
Please consider donating to keep our projects going.
In autumn of 2021, our ‘Food Stories’ project engaged in participatory action research (PAR), guided by Rob Logan, to inform National Food Service London’s (NFSL) future strategy and actions in relation to a vision of a just and sustainable food system in North-East London. The process chartered three participatory workshops in the autumn of 2021 informed by pre- and post-workshop surveys and semi-structured dialogues with organisation members. Methods designed by the NFSL research team centred everyday experiences of the food system and developed emotional, relational and spatial knowledges through personal reflection and active engagement with people and places part of team members’ lives. Overall, the process integrated eight methods in-between and during workshops, these being: survey, semi-structured dialogue, focus group, community mapping, food objects exercise, food diary, interview, and freeze frames. 19 people participated as part of the research team, with nine people engaged in the whole process. The research generated 122 unique engagements in developing and carrying out the project.
Food Support Referrals & Signposting
While we no longer offer our own emergency food provision service, we continue to operate a hotline for anyone living in North East London who needs help accessing food and financial support services. We do not means-test. Everyone is welcome. We also offer an opt-in well-being support. Please call 0208 194 2757 if you or anyone you know is in need of food support.
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.
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
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 downloaded here for free! Or email email@example.com to request a pay-what-you-can printed copy.
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.
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.
We are no longer operating our emergency food provision service in North Hackney due to lack of funding and resources.
Unfortunately, we have now closed our meals and groceries service, due to lack of funding and resources. But, if you would like information about local, North London support, please do get in touch.We have information on:
- local food support
- wellbeing support services
- where to find your local covid-19 test or vaccine centre
- financial support services
- projects for increasing long-term access to more affordable and better quality foods in our community
Fill out our REQUEST SUPPORT form or call 0208 194 2757 and a member of our Hotline team will be in touch.
We still have lots of volunteering opportunities available so if you are interested in getting involved, fill out the APPLY TO VOLUNTEER form and we will be in touch.
- 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.