Restaurants filling the food poverty gap in Leeds caused by coronavirus lockdown

Restaurants and food outlets across Leeds have been helping to fill in some of the food poverty gaps in the city after being closed down overnight due to government restrictions.

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 6:00 am

When Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced on March 23 that pubs, cafes and restaurants were to close to help stop the spread of the virus they decided to put their now surplus stock to good use rather than let it go to waste.

Organic restaurant and wine bar Eat Your Greens is one that has been working hand-in-hand with local charities to supply those in need whilst also trying to support employees.

Dan Palmer said: "When the lockdown was announced, like many businesses we were loaded with perishable food goods, we have always been centred on a waste-reduction ethos so naturally sought a solution as we shouldn’t be ignoring what is happening on our doorsteps”.

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Eat Your Greens.

It comes after reports that since March, food poverty in the UK has risen to 3m with 1.5m people going a whole day without eating.

He added: “We were put in touch with PAFRAS (a community-based charity helping Asylum seekers) and as it developed our new chef was not covered by government furlough. We felt that, as a crucial link in the food supply chain, we had a duty to do something positive and to support our team.”

Inspired by the suspended coffee movement, Eat Your Greens have been offering their customers the option to pay for a ‘suspended charity dinner’.

“We have been taken aback by the amount of donations, it’s been touching and we have really been feeling the support from customers."

Meanwhile, at Kirkgate Market, Colombian start up business, Kanassa has been working with The Real Junk Food project in making free food packs for key workers from food that would, without intervention, be thrown to waste as well as distributing packs to rough sleepers in the area.

They said: "The very culture of restaurants is challenged by the virus and social distancing measures. Restaurants, cafes and bars are places where people meet, socialise, hang out, connect. The way we ran our stall before the virus was communal. People would sit at our bar and chat to us or each other whilst they ate.

“I think that we will see a greater number of collaborations between businesses, whether it's selling or promoting each other’s products or sharing delivery drivers. The Leeds food scene has real strength in this area already so I have no doubts that will get stronger.”


PAFRAS charity director, Karen Pearse said that they had been reduced to handing out food from a car park in Harehills as the community centre base it usually uses has been closed down. She said the lockdown has also stopped services they offered such as immigration advice and mental health support to asylum seekers who have been refused asylum and have no home, financial support or work.

Also struggling to operate in the same way is Simon on the Streets as for those sleeping rough, the lifelines of busking, food banks and cheap food vendors have been severed and the fundraising events it relies on have been cancelled.

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