Good News Stories: Cultural Food Hubs

As part of #goodfoodstories Meet the Network we caught up with Rifhat Malik from Give a Gift before Christmas to learn more about Cultural Food Hubs.
Read on to hear what Rifhat has to say here!

Give a Gift is a small charity and we’ve been running for 10 years supporting communities. We work with partner organisations through a referral process, but when COVID hit we had to digress from what we were doing and support people with food provision.

The council had set up a food distribution centre but due to logistics, they weren’t able to cater for the  diverse communities and their cultural and dietary requirements, which led to the inception of two cultural food hubs – Give a Gift and Hamara. The cultural food hubs were then able to provide culturally appropriate food packs to people.

Very, very positive. We started to deliver the cultural food packs to the various communities, such as Eastern European, South Asian, Middle Eastern, African and Caribbean and it has been very well received. We get a lot of positive feedback. It is important for people’s dignity that they can access culturally appropriate food.

The biggest challenge is that we’re getting a lot more people coming to us. Since the policy changes that have meant that asylum seekers and refugees are being dispersed from the hotels, we’ve been inundated with more and more people wanting to register for the cultural food hub. We’re also getting calls from schools wanting to register families – the demand is increasing.

During COVID, there were 33 Community Care hubs providing food aid. Since then, organisations have gone back to their core work, leaving 19 providers across the city, many providing a much reduced service. This has meant an increase in demand for not only cultural food hubs but all food aid providers due to the Cost of Living crisis.

In addition, the funding landscape is unsure. We’ve been well supported by the Council and VAL through the Household Support Fund, and we have good relationships wholesalers, but it is a challenge to meet the increasing demand.

Yes. We were nominated last year for the Queen’s Award but when the Queen passed away it changed to the King’s Award.  I said to my husband wouldn’t it be nice if we were the first recipients of the King’s award. And yeah lo and behold it was announced last Tuesday!

So yes, we’re really excited about that. And to be honest with you, we’ve not really had time to digest it because we’re so front house and we’re operational, you don’t get a chance to chance to sit down and sort of take it all in. I’m hoping that it’ll actually open some doors for us. I think it will help with funding, as it will act like a stamp for accreditation.

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