On 26 November 2021, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, joined food and social inclusion charity Be Enriched and key delivery partner Feeding Britain to officially launch The London Food Bus, a unique alternative retail concept with a mission to take reduced rate, healthy food to Lambeth and Wandsworth.
For many years, Be Enriched has run Community Canteens and specific projects designed to bring people together to connect over food. Now it is taking affordable produce and household items to those who are geographically disadvantaged, using the specially converted double-decker. The bus includes a greengrocers on the ground floor, plus a café, and seating area on the top section. Consideration has been given to every aspect of the vehicle, with work undertaken to reduces its air emissions, and it even has solar panels to generate power as it moves around south London.
The project has been four years in the making and not without its challenges, including being vandalised during the summer. However, with the support of many in the communities it will serve, the bus is now on the road.
Be Enriched CEO and Founder, Kemi Akinola, explained: “From our work, we recognised that it can often be difficult to get to, or afford, healthy food. Equally, retail space is expensive for groups to take on. When I looked at the problem, I thought back to my life experiences buying food from a man in a van and I was inspired to see how I could use that to address the challenges facing many families.
“I am so amazed by all the support we have received to turn my vision into a reality. I am so grateful to all of the supporters, funders and partners who have made this a reality.
“I really hope that people will visit the bus when it stops in Stockwell, Kennington, Roehampton and Tooting to get hold of cut price healthy food, or even just get on board for a hot drink and a chat. The London Food Bus is there for everyone who needs it.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Every Londoner should have the right to healthy, affordable food, no matter what their circumstances or where they live. The Food Bus is a brilliant initiative, providing vital support to families in need, including access to nutritious, affordable food. I’m proud that my Good Growth Fund is supporting this scheme, which is helping to tackle food inequality in the capital.”
Rose Bray, Project Manager at Feeding Britain, added: “Feeding Britain are a national charity, working to tackle hunger across the UK. We are delighted to be working with Be Enriched on the Food Bus, bringing fresh, healthy food right into the heart of communities. This project is now paving the way for a fleet of food buses across the Feeding Britain network.”
Chris Dodd, Head of Employability & Professional Training, South Thames College, concluded: “We were delighted to host the Mayor and the team from Be Enriched for the launch of this fantastic initiative. We look forward to seeing the project no doubt go from strength to strength.”
During the pilot, run earlier in 2021, the bus reached 250 households a week, partnered with various local schools, as well as providing free lunches and activities for children in Lambeth over the school holidays. During the first year of operations, the project aims to reach an estimated 1,500 families across the two boroughs.
For more information about The London Food Bus, including its stops and how you can support it, go to www.be-enriched.org/the-food-bus