‘Made in Hackney’ cookery school saves lives during COVID-19

Local plant-based community cookery school, Made In Hackney, has hit the 25,000 mark with its direct to door free meal delivery for households in need across East London during the COVID-19 crisis – with a target of 34,000 meals by mid-June. Since its launch mid-March, volunteers have clocked up over 1,000 hours to deliver c.500 free home meals everyday in Hackney, thanks to an £80k Crowdfunder campaign and partnership with Angelina’s restaurant in Dalston Junction. The Crown actress Olivia Colman even stopped by to lend a hand during the campaign.  

Made In Hackney conceived and launched the service within nine days when they realised they would have to close their cookery school, turning instead to meet the urgent needs of people and households struggling to access food during the COVID-19 emergency. The Hackney-based charity has been working with local gourmet restaurant Angelina’s who have transformed their service from meeting the culinary desires of affluent East London foodies to providing delicious, nourishing, plant-based meals to households who need it most during the COVID-19 crisis.

The daily meals are from the cookery school’s bank of recipes usually taught in their classes and are recommended by one of their teachers, NHS dietitian Hannah Walker. Couriers have delivered the plant-powered meals by bike and car, direct to the doors of people who need it most. This list of households has been collated with input from frontline NHS staff and local grassroots charities and support services. 

Made In Hackney founder Sarah Bentley says. “The service is saving lives. We’ve heard stories of our meals being the first food in households for days and our volunteers have been able to help community members in need of hospital attention. Made in Hackney’s welfare callers have telephoned ambulances on multiple occasions. This service is so much more than food: it’s been a lifeline.”

Currently, the service is set to run until the middle of June, however Made in Hackney has discovered that half of their meal recipients will need the service beyond that. The cookery school is now planning how they can continue with difficult economic times ahead.