Since opening premises in the market, City Harvest London (CHL) has significantly increased the volume of fresh produce it collects from traders and been able to assist more than three times the number of local charities it had previously helped.
City Harvest London began operations at New Spitalfields wholesale market in 2019. After proving the need, in January 2020 premises were added. During its first 12 months in the market, those premises rescued in excess of 110,000 kilos of produce.
Some 34 firms (from 76 stall traders excluding catering traders) have donated produce directly since May 2020. The largest single donation was received in early April 2020 when collectively traders at New Spitalfields Market donated 25-30 pallets of produce to CHL to aid their efforts to support clients during the first period of lockdown. The largest single month for donated food direct from traders was May 2020 when 24,750 kilos of goods was handled by City Harvest London from the wholesale market.
The CHL operation at New Spitalfields is staffed five days per week, Monday to Friday and while the market does most of its business between midnight and 7am, City Harvest London operates from 5am to midday. The staff team is complemented by volunteers – three drivers now distribute produce collected from the market.
The produce they have rescued has made a huge difference to people in need in the market’s local community. Early in 2020, 12 projects in the boroughs surrounding the market were benefiting from rescued food. By December 2020, this had expanded to more than 40 local charities and projects serving groups such as children’s centres, hospices, food banks, breakfast & after-school clubs, and women’s aid groups.
CHL said: “We would like to thank the entire team at New Spitalfields Market for their generosity. Data about donated produce was collated as a single figure (i.e., for the market as a whole) until May 2020. Data collection then moved to itemisation by trader to better capture the generosity of traders, the type of food rescued and inform supporters about the charity’s work.”
City Harvest London’s efforts to keep hungry Londoners feed during 2020 was recognised nationally with CEO Laura Winningham receiving an OBE for leading the charity’s response to the pandemic. Read more about this achievement here