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Dizzee Rascal serves meals as food insecurity skyrockets by 250%

The rapper’s surprise visit to make food parcels at a Poplar primary school comes as hunger grows during the Covid-19 pandemic

Dizzee Rascal Mayor's Fund for London

Nearly two million kids are going hungry in the UK during the Covid-19 lockdown – so even rapper Dizzee Rascal is joining efforts to help get food to those who need it.

The Food Foundation’s latest YouGov survey revealed that 1.7 million kids are living in food insecure households while 4.9 million adults are struggling to put food on the table.

The shocking figures represent a small improvement on levels seen at the start of the lockdown when 16 per cent of households were experiencing food insecurity. But they are still 250 per cent higher than pre-Covid-19 levels, putting into perspective the dramatic impact of the virus, with four million households borrowing money just to avoid starvation.

Many young people in London are paying a devastating price for Covid-19 and as a society we have a duty to help

This was the reason why Dizzee Rascal dropped in on Bygrove Primary School in Poplar yesterday.

The world-famous recording artist spent the morning packing food parcels and serving meals to children and families. Each parcel put together at the school-turned-food hub contains enough food to make five meals for a family of four with a further 150 food hampers sent to local families every week.

Dizzee Rascal Mayor's Fund for London
Dizzy Rascal helps out at the Bygrove Primary School Food Bank
Dizzy Rascal spell volunteering at Bygrove Primary School gave him a first-hand look at the Covid-19-driven hunger crisis in London.

Dizzee dropped in as part of his work with Kitchen Social, the food poverty-busting programme of charity Mayor’s Fund for London, run by Big Issue Changemaker Clara Widdison.

He said: “I was given an amazing opportunity to visit and help out Kitchen Social at Bygrove Primary School in Poplar, who are providing free food, books and school equipment to kids in the local area where I grew up. Thank you to all the amazing people I met and thanks Mayor’s Fund For London for connecting the dots.”

Kitchen Social is the largest provider of food for children in London during the school holidays. Bygrove Primary School has been a part of the programme since 2018, and prior to the pandemic, 34 per cent of school pupils were eligible for free school meals.

Now children are at home, Kitchen Social has been coordinating relief efforts with its own network of community organisations (such as schools, adventure playgrounds, youth clubs) and other food charities to ensure food and supplies get to the children and families who need it most.

These organisations are working around the clock to provide packed lunches, hot food for collection and deliver food ‘happiness hampers’ to struggling families. Food insecurity affects educational attainment and children’s wellbeing, including their physical health.

Kirsty McHugh, chief executive, said: “Many young people in London are paying a devastating price for Covid-19 and as a society we have a duty to help. Not all of us can volunteer like Dizzee today, but even small donations can help our young people access food and other support.”

Mayor’s Fund for London are currently fundraising with a £33 donation feeding ten children for one day. Donations can be made to their emergency appeal here.

Images: Ben Stevens/Mayor’s Fund for London

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