A fresh approach for a community partnership in Knowsley

St Gabriel’s Church in Huyton has partnered with community organisations and local independent businesses to establish Knowsley Kitchen, an initiative which provides a regular, sustainable fresh food delivery service to vulnerable and struggling members of the community in Knowsley who would otherwise not have access to fresh food.

Knowsley Kitchen was launched during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in April. St Gabriel’s Church was one of the founding partners of Knowsley Kitchen alongside OneKnowsley; Alchemic Kitchen (part of Feedback, a regional food economy project); Liverpool Independent Delivery Service (LIDS); Homestart Knowsley; and Torrington Drive Community Association, Halewood.

The Knowsley Kitchen partnership aims to provide those who cannot access fresh food with a regular, sustainable box of fresh fruit, vegetables, and bread. In addition to this, the project takes an educational approach to food; each box of fresh produce contains cards with information about the fresh produce with recipes to follow from top Liverpool chef, Dave Critchley. People are encouraged and inspired to cook using online videos and live ‘cook-offs’ alongside Critchley.

Rev. Canon Malcolm Rogers, vicar of St Gabriel’s, Huyton, said: “The need came from local intelligence based on our #RingOneFriend telephone networking. We were hearing repeated stories of barriers to food, and existing emergency food parcels which were very hit and miss, often containing donated items ranging from potato gnocchi to jammy dodgers. I even joked once with Chef Critchley whether even someone with his skill could come up with a nutritious meal and the answer was no.” 

Through their regular telephone conversations with the local community during the Covid-19 lockdown, it became apparent that residents in Knowsley had “acute difficulty accessing fresh fruit and vegetables due to shielding, poverty or lack of nearby shops.”

The project is run using mutual-aid principles. “The dignity of every human being is at the core, irrespective of ability to pay. Those who can pay are asked to. Those who can donate are encouraged. Those who can’t pay receive exactly the same as those who can. 

“We are trying from the outset to avoid grant dependency and other ‘donor’ models of operation. This means we have to be careful regarding capacity, but so far we have been very encouraged by the generosity of both those directly supporting others, the businesses involved and the small army of volunteers. Together, they have made a massive difference to people’s lives.”

Volunteers from churches in Knowsley are helping to deliver over 100 boxes each week, and the number of deliveries continues to rise.

Looking to the future of the project and opportunities for further outreach, Rev. Canon Mal Rogers said: “We are currently working on ensuring school-age children in the borough don’t go hungry during the summer holiday. This is proving to be a challenge and we are exploring various options both in terms of sustainability and logistics. We are also looking to expand Knowsley Kitchen to other parts of the borough through the expansion of the partnership wherever possible.

 “The project is helping people stay safe and well. It is equipping them with new skills and forging community links which are extremely important. Each week we receive phone calls of how transformational this ministry has been. 

“If anyone would like to donate a food box (£10) or a packed lunch (£4) please visit thelids.co.uk, click on the Shop tab and find Knowsley Kitchen. 
"Thank you for your help and support.”