Last week, I had the joy of visiting the Made In Hackney community kitchen. It's set up in the Queen of Hoxton nightclub in Shoreditch; they use the dancefloor to serve up the meals before the post-work revellers start to arrive in the evening.
Everything is community funded: as well as fund-raising projects, they are sponsored by the enormous generosity of local restaurants and food businesses donating leftover food, and volunteers who come to help chop veg and serve around 200 meals a week.
I turned up to chop a copious amount of cabbage, peel potatoes, and stick labels on take-away containers. It felt really good to be back in a busy working kitchen again, and I had a wonderful time, meeting lovely people and doing something truly worthwhile.
I was introduced to Made In Hackney by Asa Simonsson, naturopath and author of "Fermentation", who had come to some of my events. I was looking for a space in London to run my Raw Chef Certification Courses, and she recommended them as a community venue, I think probably in 2013. I wanted to support Made In Hackney for a few reasons. Firstly, I am Made In Hackney! I lived there until I was 7, and my earliest memories are all in Hackney. I went to Hackney Infants school and my mum worked in the playground in Victoria Park. She was a single parent with no support, and Hackney was very rough back then. One of my earliest memories is of my little kiddie plastic trike getting stolen from the front garden! So who knows, if it was a few decades later, we could be a household who was applying for the meal service.
As a long term vegan (33 years now), veganism is obviously very important to me, so I love the fact that everything Made In Hackney do is vegan without making a song and dance about it. I think although our business model with Raw Living is quite different from MIH, at the heart, the ethos is the same: a desire to help people improve their lives through providing them with organic plant foods, produced and made with love. I am passionate about a lot of things, but giving people access to high quality nutritious foods and witnessing how much better they feel about themselves when they start eating well, is probably my biggest passion in life.
I also feel strongly that we are here to serve. In yoga, they call it "Bhakti Yoga"; living life from a place of selflessness. I feel that once we are ok for our own survival needs - food, water, shelter - then our responsiblity is to help those in our community meet their own survival needs. It's not to amass material possessions and elevate ourselves above others. So I feel like its important to do that, and important to be seen doing that, and set a different example than the Hollywood celebrities with their multiple homes and yachts and extravagant lifestyles. It upsets me deeply that theres so much unnecessary suffering in the world, when it should be a simple thing to make sure everyone has food and shelter. That's why I always say, women are the leaders of the future! Because it's our instinct to say, "Have you had a cup of tea? Have you got your coat on?" rather than, "Lets go to the moon! Lets invade that city!"
So I love that Made in Hackney is taking that ethos literally. Doing their best to ensure that everyone in their community has access to good quality plant-based food, made with love. We are supporting them with superfood donations for the community kitchen and the cookery school, and I will be getting involved in various fund-raising activities throughout the year. On October 15th, I am dressing up as an avocado and joining them on their charity run. You can donate here https://localgiving.org/fundraising/MIH-Veg-Dash-Team-Sarahs/.
If you want to support them further, you can also "Donate A Plate" here.
Just £3 covers the cost of the salaried staff and any food and equipment that has not already been donated, to make one delicious vegan meal for a person in need.