Food for London Now: Melissa Hemsley cooks up a storm and pleads: Do what you can to help our great appeal

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elebrity chef Melissa Hemsley praised our Christmas appeal saying it will help families get through a “hard, cold winter” as she cooked and delivered 300 hot meals for those in need. The best-selling food writer began her day preparing roasted aubergine, chickpea curries and Bombay potatoes alongside 50 volunteers from our charity partner, With Compassion, at the London Scottish House. She said: “Everyone here works so hard to give back to those in need — it has been a real team spirit and it’s just amazing to see everyone play a part.

No matter how big or small — whether it’s the dishes, preparing the food or packing away the boxes — it’s a team effort.” The Leytonstone-based chef visited the Victoria kitchen which was lent to us for our campaign to help feed vulnerable Londoners. It gives a boost to our month-long Christmas appeal that will see the Standard, along with our partner, the Felix Project, deploy two state-of-the-art food trucks — carrying free food across London.

Hemsley also joined our volunteers at the Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park. Food for London and The Felix Project campaign to feed 25,000 children Hisham Bettayeb, an outreach officer for the organisation, said: “Everyday at 2pm we serve food here to families from different circumstances — those who cannot afford it, those who may be homeless or who’ve been heavily affected by the pandemic and lost their jobs.

We’ve seen a lot more people coming in for food during this lockdown — there are lots of families unable to feed their children — so together  we’re trying to help everyone we can.” The 24-year-old added that close to 700 people a day depend on their centre for hot meals. He added: “We’ve been able to get help from the charity in terms of capacity for good nutritious food and this allows us to continue feeding those who need it most.”

One example was a mother of six who lost her job at the start of the pandemic and was “really struggling”. Mr Bettayeb said the woman was so grateful for the food that she was in tears.

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The black trucks, supplied by Food Truck Masters, have delivered hundreds of meals to charities in north and west London. Hemsley, who has volunteered with Felix in her spare time for two years, said: “I found it almost impossible not to get involved in this amazing campaign.

“If you can make the time then you should because I know how extra hands just make such a difference.

It is going to be a hard, cold winter and more people need this help more than ever.

I feel I’m doing a very minor role in what is going to be a big operation and that is going to make so much impact.”

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