Some Key Issues We Are Addressing
1.Working towards Community Cohesion
At first our local cooks and users from each of the different communities here strongly preferred their own food and would not readily eat food from other cultures. Over time, barriers have lifted and now our cooks make and enjoy dishes together from all over world and our users are much more adventurous in the dishes they will try. Everyone is also becoming much more aware of their diet, the ingredients that they use, where they come from and how they can eat healthier. Our cooks are also much more professional in their approach to catering now and aware of their need to please their customers. Through customer feedback we have developed cooking which is healthier and more acceptable i.e. not too hot, spicy, sugary, salty or oily.
2.Organically sourced food
There are many people round here who cannot afford the organic food which we aim to supply at our Food Co-op and in the proposed box/.bag scheme, even though we charge little more than cost price and we offer Healthy Food Vouchers to low income families with young children. So we will also offer alternatives: locally sourced food from farmers and wholesalers sold almost at cost to the community. The healthy eating and local food messages are getting through and we are looking for alternative cheaper sources of produce from "conservation grade" growers and wholesale sustainable food suppliers. Crucially we grow more and more of our own produce. This last year we served our own home grown fruit and vegetables in the Co-op, produced our own jams and chutneys and cooked food in the Community Kitchen made from some of our own home grown produce: spinach, apples, pears, plums, leeks, onions, garlic, brassicas, raspberries, black, red and white currants, gooseberries, josta berries, strawberries, courgettes, mushrooms, lettuces, salad crops, tomatoes, potatoes, assorted beans and many different herbs: rosemary, parsley, thyme, mint, chives, basil and a wide variety of salad leaves.
The whole subject of meat is contentious for many of our volunteers, supporters and customers, as many are vegetarians and some are vegans. Also meat is expensive and it needs to be Halal for some of our communities or sometimes kosher which according to others, precludes it from being organic. We wrestle with these arguments, but many in our communities are meat eaters and so we have to supply if we are to attract all communities in to use our cafe. Many of our greener members feel that large-scale meat production can never be environmentally friendly, due to the huge acreage of land taken up, the large amounts of crops that livestock consume, as well as the flatulence involved producing greenhouse gases apparently and that this land could be better used growing produce for human consumption. It is also of important that we keep the cost of food to a minimum and both meat and fish are comparatively very expensive, Halal and organic even more so. Longer term we aim to teach people to use fresher, healthier, more seasonal fruit and veg. with fair trade whole foods and to reduce their dependence on over processed, pre-packaged foods as well as meat, salt, sugar, fat and fatty oils.
4.Meeting the demand of our services
Running these pilot projects for the last 3 years we have proved that there is a significant and growing demand for our services from local people. Not just locally but throughout Tottenham and Haringey. At present though we have nothing like the capacity to fulfil this demand, we have attracted an eager audience which grows week by week with a growing pool of active volunteers. Expectation now is almost tangible but without progression we get volunteer fatigue as well as customer fatigue because they want us to be open as a facility regularly as and when they need us on a full time basis. We are not yet running out of volunteer time. They are being patient. But we don't have the staff with the ability to supervise all of this work. So we urgently need to appoint more staff to help and support volunteers. We need to be open more often in order to serve our public as a regular, reliable service on a full-time basis. We also urgently need to regularise our position in the kitchen and the Centre gardens with L B Haringey regarding our leases and rental as soon as possible in order to satisfy our funders.