Food Waste and Social Inclusion: Refrettorio Felix brings good food and dignity to vulnerable residents of West London

 Photo by Refrettorio Felix

Photo by Refrettorio Felix

Upon entering Refrettorio Felix I was both touched by the energy of this special place and enchanted by seeing such a wonderful concept unfolding in front of my eyes. Refrettorio Felix is a community kitchen that was launched in London in June 2017 by Chef Massimo Bottura’s non-profit organisation Food for Soul in partnership with St Cuthbert’s Centre and the charity The Felix Project. For nearly 30 years, St Cuthbert’s Centre has operated as a drop-in community centre for marginalised and vulnerable people. At the centre each weekday, talented guest chefs join the kitchen staff to help raise awareness about the potential of discarded foods and transform in-date surplus ingredients into delicious three-course lunches to nourish those living on or below the breadline. This includes rough sleepers, homeless, those with mental health issues and substance misuse issues. The kitchen staff is supported by a team of dedicated volunteers that serve guests at the table, reinforcing a sense of care and hospitality and allowing spontaneous conversation to flow. Within its first year of operation, Refrettorio Felix served 16,630 meals and made use of approximately 18,000 kg of surplus ingredients and it joins the success of other community kitchens that Bottura launched in Italy, Rio de Janeiro and, most recently, Paris. As with the other projects, Refrettorio Felix has the aim of encouraging those from different fields, including chefs, artists, designers, and food suppliers, to collaborate in building and sustaining community projects. Bottura involved the design studio StudioIlse to renovate the communal space at St Cuthbert’s Centre and transform it into to a warm and inviting space where diners can really feel at home. Retailers such as Wholefood, Sainsbury’s Planet Organic and Paul count among some of the supermarkets, wholesalers and other food suppliers that support the Refrettorio Felix project.

“Beauty and the act of sharing a meal brings dignity to the experience” Isle Crawford of StudioIlse

“People should not starve, should not feel hungry these days” - Paulo de Tarso – Margot Restaurant

Around 1.9 million tonnes of avoidable food waste is generated by the UK food industry each year. At the same time food poverty is a vast and growing problem, with almost 4 million children in the UK living in households that struggle to afford to buy enough fruit, vegetables, fish and other healthy foods. Charities such as The Felix Project and FareShare are on a mission to fight hunger while simultaneously tackling food waste. Other projects designed to help tackle Britain’s growing food waste crisis are represented by community fridges that are spreading across the country. The initiative, launched by environmental charity Hubbub, allows locals to donate their surplus fruit, vegetables and perishables to one of the 31 fridge projects across England, Scotland and Ireland. It is estimated that each community fridge redistributes around 525kg surplus food per month.

For more information about food waste reduction: http://www.wrap.org.uk/food-waste-reduction

To read more about Food for Soul is a non-profit organisation founded by chef Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore https://www.foodforsoul.it/about-us/ and https://youtu.be/2OFYFEh-XE0

To know more about The Felix Project and how you can help: http://thefelixproject.org/about/our-story

To read about the Community Food Network: https://www.bigissue.com/latest/community-fridges-are-helping-tackle-britains-growing-food-waste-crisis/