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Three million plates of food dished out by volunteers

Food For All celebrates milestone

15 June, 2018 — By The Xtra Diary

Volunteer Rob Edwards

THE queues snake around the Bloomsbury campuses, into the squares of the leafy area, and are made up of a huge range of West Enders every day.

All stand there with an eye on being handed a tasty plate of delicious, hot, freshly-cooked curries, a side of chapati and, more often than not, some fresh fruit.
It has been a daily sight for more than two decades, come rain or shine, and is the Food For All, bicycle-pulled, free outdoor canteen run by a group of people who adhere to the Hare Krishna faith.

This week Diary would like to mark an important milestone for these vegetarian-cooking, orange- clad grub-givers: they handed out their three millionth plate of free food.

Long-term FFA volunteer Rob Edwards tells Diary they have estimated how many servings they do on a daily basis, worked out how many days they have been in the same spot, and come up with the astonishing figure.

“We weren’t precisely counting, ha ha, but we know it is pretty much hit the 3,000,000 mark now,” he says.

And where do the ingredients come from? Some funding is found through donations, but they also won a grant from a European-wide project to collect food.

“We had a bit of grant funding from a European project to do with diverting wholesale – supermarket fresh food waste going to landfill,” he adds, which is another reason to savour the yummy offerings.

Their kitchen team start every morning at around seven and work tirelessly to fill their containers up that are then loaded into vans or onto rickshaws for the volunteers to take to various sites around Westminster and Camden.

Through conversations with the volunteers, Diary has learned a key part of the Krishna faith is based on the concept that food is a pretty vital element of life, and that no one should go hungry – hence they run their Food For All schemes, and they don’t turn anyone away.

It attracts those in genuine need, penny-watching students but also lots of office workers and the like, too, who are drawn to the dishes not just because they can save their lunch money, but because it is genuinely delicious.

However you look at it, that’s a lot of full bellies. Here’s to the next 3,000,000.

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