‘We’ve been feeding 380 children a day’: Food bank under threat of closure over council funding

By Jake Egelnick

A community organisation that provides thousands of meals to kids over the summer holidays is under threat of closure after a council said it could not offer enough funding.

The Legendary Community Club (LCC), which is based in Kilmorie Primary School, in Kilmorie Road, Forest Hill, provides nutritionally balanced and culturally varied meals for young people across the borough of Lewisham for free.

The community organisation takes part in the Government’s Holiday Activities Food (HAF) programme, an initiative that supports young people who receive free school meals during the school summer holidays. 

From left, Rosie Bellamy and Tye Stanislas (Picture: Jake Egelnick)

But with inflation at its highest level in 30 years, the community group has seen its costs increase drastically. 

Just weeks before LCC was set to start cooking for the summer holidays, it was informed that Lewisham council would be unable to fund the increased difference in costs. 

A Lewisham council spokesman said LCC had missed that deadline for applications, leaving it with less money to offer them.

But Andra McMillan, the founder of LCC, claimed the organisation administered everything through a funding coordinator at the council who did not state anything about a deadline or application process. 

Ms McMillan said that despite this reduction in funding she was clear that pulling the project has never been an option.

“We’ve been feeding 380 children and young people a day,” she said. “[Pulling the project] would have left the activities providers with nothing.” 

Activities providers, such as the Millwall Community Trust, receive the food made by LCC and give it to children taking part in their summer activities. 

But the lack of funding has meant that activity providers have been advised to give only £5.98 per person to food providers like LCC. 

LLC’s one pot chicken jollof rice and side salad (Picture: LLC)

According to Ms McMillan, this figure hasn’t increased at all since the start of the cost-of-living crisis. To date, LCC has made more than 5,000 meals. 

As part of the HAF programme, the meals must follow school standards of nutrition and the organisation has worked hard with a nutritionist commissioned by Lewisham public health to ensure both high standards of nutrition and to ensure that the meals are appropriate for the cultural dynamic of the borough 

Ms McMillan said that “although we need to keep costs down, we can’t move away from this standard as an organisation as we are not prepared to cut back on food, because young people need the nutritional element.” 

The latest Government figures show one in six children in Lewisham are growing up in poverty. 

Ms McMillan added that “we need funders to continue with this,” in order for the organisation to survive.

If you would like to donate to the Legendary Community Club, click this link to their fundraising page.

A Lewisham council spokesman said: “As part of our Holiday Activities and Food Programme, we awarded funding this summer to more than 40 organisations across the borough and enabled more than 2,000 children to benefit from free activities and food.

“This included an allocation of £1,300 funding to Legendary Community Club to deliver activities for children and young people. 

“Legendary Community Club made a request for funding after the deadline for applications had passed and at a time when 95 per cent of the funding had already been allocated. 

“Despite this, we chose to make a discretionary payment in recognition of the important role carried out by their youth volunteers and their impact in the community.

“We would welcome further interest from them in future.”

Pictured top: From left, Legendary Community Club volunteers Johnpaul Egbuziem, Raheem Bentley, Andra McMillan, Rosie Bellamy and Tye Stanislas (Picture: Jake Egelnick)

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