Several charities and charitable organisations, including Free Serve, City Harvest and Fuel Our Frontline, have benefited from the generosity of New Spitalfields Market tenants in the last few days.
In excess of 27 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables were donated by tenants of New Spitalfields as part of a collective effort pulled together by Spitalfields Market Tenants Association (SMTA) chair Paul Walker, of Waldon Fruit, and also a number of traders are making other charitable food donations.
“Loads of mixed vegetables and fruit were delivered earlier this week after we called out for support on the WhatsApp group. We’re just doing our little bit to make healthy fruit and vegetables available to people who really need it,” said Paul. “I hope we can continue to do the same in the weeks to come,” he added. “Some of the firms in the market have closed and the rest of us remain busy at the moment. And a pallet of produce is not necessarily cheap. If we’re going to donate product, we do want it to be varied and of good quality, so it might be that we don’t have the same amount every week. But we do want to make a regular donation.”
The closure of pubs, restaurants and other leisure outlets has had a big impact on all wholesale markets. New Spitalfields though is predominantly still a wholesale market, and while many tenants do serve the catering trade, the market as a whole has a robust customer profile in the independent retail sector.
The dynamic of the market has changed to reflect the demands of London in lockdown, Paul explained. “A couple of the catering firms are doing home deliveries as their normal business has been shot to pieces. But for most of the wholesalers, that isn’t something that we do. Some independent retailers and most of the greengrocers who are not able to operate from their stalls have started delivery services for people who are not able to leave their home. It’s not creating custom for us because they have had to close their stalls, but it will hopefully work for them and for the customers they deliver to and all being well, what the independent retailers and street market traders have done to help at this time will be recognised when this situation is over,” he said.
Chief executive of the SMTA, Jan Hutchinson, agreed: “We hope to continue with a level of support as much as is possible for the foreseeable future, and through other requests direct to our office are also trying to support more localised campaigns,” she said. “We have also responded to requests for help from local boroughs.”
The market is owned and managed by The Corporation of London and its Markets Committee chairman James Tumbridge said: “The City of London is so lucky to have great markets, and great tenants. The generosity of the New Spitalfields traders shows this better than any words.
“My heartfelt thanks and the thanks of the Markets Committee goes to the traders for supporting City Harvest and our NHS via their food donations.”
• A number of steps have been taken in order to ensure the safest environment for everyone at the market during the current COVID-19 outbreak, in line with government advice.