Community Kitchen Service

The CDARS Community Kitchen was launched in April 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  It was set up by Danny McCubbin (who spent many years working with Jamie Oliver on various food campaigns) with the help of our in-house Nutritional Therapist, Dr Lesley-Anne Kerr and several amazing, generous volunteer chefs.

We opened the Community Kitchen in April 2020 and since then the kitchen has gone from strength to strength preparing thousands of delicious meals, cooked with love and care using fresh ingredients.

The Community Kitchen initiative was one part of CDARS’ rapid response to support our most vulnerable clients who were isolated at home with little or no other support in place.  Clients were provided with grocery boxes and/or healthy meals to help through the crisis. Our most vulnerable client groups offered support consisted of the following: Over 70 years old with underlying health problems or with no family or friend to support them, clients with medical conditions that required them to self-isolate, disabled clients who cannot walk, lift etc, recovering addicts who are unable to leave their home, clients who have mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety or are suffering social exclusion and isolation, ex-service men and women and their partners and clients who are on suicide watch.

It soon became clear that the kitchen was providing huge benefits to our clients and it was decided to make it a permanent CDARS service.  In December Danny moved on to a new and exciting project.  Since then the kitchen has been run by our Kitchen Manager/Chef, assisted by another chef and between them they take great pride in sending hundreds of meals out to our vulnerable clients on a weekly basis.  Lesley-Anne is always available to provide support and nutritional advice to the kitchen.

The Community Kitchen is currently based at St Mungo’s Wellbeing Centre in Wandsworth.  It provides meals for clients of St Mungo’s who are living on site. The kitchen team also has a collaboration with St Mungo’s “Putting Down Roots” project, which teaches vulnerable people how to plant and grow vegetables and herbs.  The kitchen receives fresh grown vegetables and herbs and the gardeners are provided with a hearty lunch.

The Community Kitchen so far has been funded by various funding organisations, including: London Community Response Fund, London Catalyst, Carluccio’s Foundation, Caf Resilience Fund, National Lottery Community Fund, Wandsworth Grants Fund, Wimbledon Foundation, Albert Gubay Foundation, Awards for All, City Bridge, Wimbledon Rotary.

Also we have had fresh food donations, which are always welcome, as we can serve more vulnerable residents. So far several local charities who have donated fresh food to CDARS Community Kitchen include: “City Harvest” and “Waste Not Want Not”, as well as some private donations have contributed enormously to feed more and more vulnerable people.  From its start to date, April 2021, we have served approximately 500 residents.

CDARS service users have volunteered in the kitchen and helped with various general tasks such as labelling, packing up the meals, washing up and clearing etc.

Some local members of the community are also active in helping to provide meals and help in the kitchen when needed.

There are other plans for the Community Kitchen going forward.  We were able to run one cookery class for clients in 2020, and these will continue for the future, service users cooked a meal in the kitchen, learning basic cooking skills from our chefs and nutrition and healthy eating facts from our nutritional therapist.  The class was well received, and we plan to run more classes in future.

Below is some feedback that has come direct to our delivery driver on the doorstep, via text messages, phone calls and via key workers & counsellors during 1-2-1 sessions:

  • “I have had no money for 3 days & won’t get any for 4 more. Without this food box I would not be able to eat this week.”
  • “Apart from your food delivery these last 2 weeks the only knock on my door was 2 drug dealers who I turned away. Thank you for caring about me.”
  • “On this most holy of days (good Friday) the food you deliver is a life saver. Without money or food I wouldn’t have eaten without your support.”
  • “If it wasn’t for this food delivery I would have had to go & shoplift for food.”
  • “It’s so great to have healthy food I can give to my kids which I couldn’t afford otherwise without your kind food donations.”