A partnership with a world-renowned chef and a charity drop-in centre has provided the ingredients for an innovative new project to feed rough sleepers.
Modena-born Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura, whose hometown restaurant Osteria Francescana was named the world’s best by S. Pellegrino in 2016, has used his Food for Soul group to revamp the St Cuthbert’s Centre in Earl’s Court, London.
Working alongside fellow food waste reduction charity The Felix Project and the not-for-profit community group at the centre, Refetterio Felix sees up to 70 rough sleepers, pensioners and people with substance abuse or mental health problems being provided a three-course lunch every day from Monday to Friday.
Top-class meals are crafted from surplus and waste food from local supermarkets and wholesalers, which are sourced and delivered by The Felix Project.
The ingredients are then used to craft meals that fit with Food for Soul’s mission to “create and sustain community kitchens by bringing professionals from diverse fields to work together, from artisans and food suppliers to designers and institutions”.
The innovative project opened its doors on June 5 following a six-week refurbishment of St Cuthbert’s Centre which saw designers Studioilse give the run-down space a new lease of life through art and design. The big launch came as part of London Food Month, a city-wide festival celebrating the diversity of the capital’s cultures and cuisines.
And the project has been a smash hit with more than 30 guest chefs from across Britain and the rest of the world transforming around 2,200kg of surplus ingredients into 1,569 served meals.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
As well as the food on offer, the centre also offers free shower and laundry facilities, clothing resources and storage as well as internet access and even hairdressers.
Members of the community can also access a knitting group, arts and crafts class, film club and an IT skills class while a visiting nurse practitioner, alcohol worker and substance misuse expert are also available on-site.
A St Cuthbert’s Centre spokesperson said: “We have been supported by The Felix Project for a number of months leading up to the opening and we are pleased to report that our charity has benefitted enormously from this.
“It is amazing the variety of fresh and healthy food that The Felix Project deliver to our Centre. As well as markedly reducing our food costs, the free deliveries help our cook create varied and more nutritious meals, we can also distribute lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to our clients.
“We passionately strive to improve of the health and wellbeing of those living on or below the poverty line, and with the support from organisations such as Food for Soul and The Felix Project, we are able to give so many marginalised members of the community a much better quality of life.”