Portraits celebrating the Hackney Community

portraits of a community - Jørn Tomter

More than just meals are being served at the New Kingshold Community Centre weekly lunch, with food being used as a way to bring people together from all walks of life, help reduce waste and turn neighbours into friends.

A new display opening at Hackney Museum this month explores the benefits this weekly lunch at Hackney’s first FoodCycle Hub has had on the local community. The exhibition documents the diverse array of residents that attend the lunches and looks at their views on coming together over food.

Paul, who is 63 and attends the lunches regularly, said: “FoodCycle provides a service that is not just about food, it’s about other things. It’s somewhere for people to go, to socialise, to mingle, to interact with other human beings. It passes time and it’s more than just a plate of food.”

The Thursday lunch club at New Kingshold Community Centre is Hackney’s first, and only, FoodCycle Hub. It uses surplus food donations, which would have normally been thrown away, from local stores to create free and healthy meals for up to 50 residents from the estate, and across Hackney, every week.

Since it launched in January 2015, the team of volunteers, who are joined in the kitchen by the guests, show residents how to create meals themselves using fruit, vegetables and baked goods to rustle-up soups, salads, stews and puddings. Residents sometimes take leftovers home to enjoy, or use the recipes to create their own meals if they have the ingredients available.

Over 100 weekly meals have been hosted at the Community Centre, using three tonnes of surplus food to create the tasty dishes, 100 volunteers have registered to take part and 3,734 meals have been served to residents. Many of the guests that attend are dealing with a variety of complex issues, so the weekly lunch is an important fixture in their daily lives. For some, it is the only chance they have to sit down to eat and chat to others.

To celebrate the two-year anniversary of the FoodCycle Hub, and to showcase the diversity of the people who attend the weekly lunches, local photographer Jørn Tomter took portraits of residents at the Community Hall, with each participant receiving a copy of their portrait to take home.



Cllr Jon Burke, Cabinet Member for Energy, Sustainability and Community Services
FoodCycle not only provides a meal for local residents, but is somewhere for residents to meet, have fun and help reduce food waste for the borough. Documenting this important community service, and the residents that take part in it, helps us think about how the simple act of sharing food together can help tackle issues like mental health and social isolation. I would recommend all residents to come and visit the display.
Cllr Jon Burke, Cabinet Member for Energy, Sustainability and Community Services

The display More than Food, which includes portraits of residents and video interviews with those who took part, is being shown at Hackney Museum between Tuesday 5 September – Saturday 13 January.

For more information on Hackney Museum including opening hours visit: www.hackney.gov.uk/museum

The FoodCycle Hub lunches take place every Thursday at 12.30pm at the New Kingshold Community Centre. They are free and open to all residents.