A food distribution charity said demand has gone “through the roof” amid the war in Ukraine and cost-of-living crisis – with its waiting list ballooning to more than 700.
London-based The Felix Project supports around 1,000 community projects, including 150 schools, with regular food.
Chief executive Charlotte Hill told the PA news agency: “What we’ve seen because of the war in Ukraine really affecting food supplies, but also the really significant increases in inflation and the huge cost-of-living rises that all Londoners are facing, is that our demand is going through the roof.”
Inflation in the UK stands at 9.1% but could rise above 11% later this year.
Mrs Hill said: “We’ve also now got a waiting list of about 700 organisations who want to get food from us who we can’t service, and this is after we have seen a huge increase in operations.”
The charity has four depots and a community kitchen in Tower Hamlets providing up to 5,000 meals a day, but still “can’t meet the demand that’s out there”.
Mrs Hill said it is harder to access surplus food, in particular staples like cooking oil, pasta and rice, compared to the pandemic years because the supply chain has been interrupted by the war and Brexit.
The charity is also being forced to cope with rising energy and fuel bills, with large walk-in fridges and freezers needed round-the-clock to keep food fresh and a fleet of more than 40 delivery vehicles to keep on the road.
“It’s kind of a perfect storm,” Mrs Hill said.
The Felix Project has teamed up with match-funding platform The Big Give and charity The Childhood Trust to provide two million meals for the capital’s most vulnerable children.
Mrs Hill said: “We’ve got a schools programme that we run all year around, where we provide surplus food to 150 schools in London once a week through an after-school market stall.
“And what we’re finding increasingly is that more and more of these schools really need ways to support their families with food during the holidays.
“And so more and more, we’re running these kind of holiday food programmes to make sure children eat all year round when they’re not able to get free school meals.”