Hi, my name’s Andrea and I’m the enterprise coordinator at Providence Row. I am part of the Enterprise & Training team and I oversee the bakery trainee scheme and Rise bakery, our social enterprise.

Eliminating hunger is one of the biggest challenges of our time.More than 815 million people – 1 in 9 - do not have enough to eat (http://worldhungerday.org/). This World Hunger Day we are focusing on the pivotal role food has here at Providence Row and how we make a difference in the community.

The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, and this has devastating effects on mental and physical health, education and social mobility (https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/sites/default/files/resource/attachments/FINAL_National_Manifesto.pdf). This inequality can be seen in the rising use of foodbanks. Between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018, The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network distributed a record 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 13% increase on the previous year (https://www.trusselltrust.org/2018/04/24/benefit-levels-must-keep-pace-rising-cost-essentials-record-increase-foodbank-figures-revealed/).

Being based in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived boroughs in the country set right next to the richest square mile in the World, we work hard to bridge the inequality gap raising awareness amongst the community and encouraging active change. In the work we do with people affected by homelessness, food often acts as a very powerful motivator. By offering the people we work with hot and healthy breakfasts and lunches we start a working relationship with them around focussing on their housing and support needs, with the aim of supporting them off the streets and connecting them with specialist support around complex needs they might have.

Food is also a vital component of Providence Row’s three trainee schemes in catering, bakery and gardening. These training programmes help people develop practical skills and take their first step into employment, further education or training. Our trainees also learn how to work as part of a team, gain communication skills and build the necessary confidence to move out of homelessness or start their recovery. They also learn how to make cheap, nutritious food, with affordable, easy-to-find ingredients.

I believe that by empowering people to become agents of change we can fight hunger, poverty and inequality and as a facilitator I take responsibility in ensuring the bakery trainee scheme provides an enabling and democratic environment for its trainees. Many of the trainees experience social isolation or exclusion, and taking part in the scheme helps them to connect socially and interact with others, with conversations they have around food often leading to clients talking about their origins, traditions, experiences and memories.

I have witnessed genuine and compassionate relationships start and flourish within the scheme, with people supporting each other in everyday tasks in the wider world outside Providence Row, much as they all do together around a table, trying to figure out what the best way to line a round tin is! At the end of each session, trainees always take what they have baked away with them, not just as a way to inspire them to do their best, but also to share with their friends and family. Even trainees who are just not that into baking, or aren’t interested in pursuing a career in catering benefit greatly from the training. In particular from the therapeutic aspects of the course, as well as what the training symbolises to other people in their lives, demonstrating to them how they are progressing in their journey. 

To mark World Hunger Day we are sharing one of our top affordable recipes. It's nutritionally balanced, vegetarian, and halal, costs on 35p per portion and doesn't require any expensive equipment to make. Most of the ingredients are non-perishable and can usually be found in food bank boxes. 



Lentil bolognaise

Ingredients (to serve 4)
  • 200 grams dry green lentils* 

  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes

  • 3 chopped garlic cloves

  • 1 onion

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 large stick of celery

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 Tbsp dried – or fresh – herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil…)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 500 ml stock (or 2 stock cubes dissolved in water)*

  • 400 grams pasta

  1. Finely chop the garlic, onion, carrot and celery stick

  2. Make a quick stock by simmering the skins and scraps with 500ml of water*

  3. In the meantime soften the chopped garlic, onion, carrot and celery in a pan with oil

  4. Rinse and drain the lentils and add them to the pan.

  5. Toast them for 2 minutes and add the chopped tomato and the stock*

  6. Stir well, cover, and cook for at least 30 minutes (or until the lentils are cooked and the sauce thickens up) on a low heat

  7. Season with salt, pepper and the herbs 

  8. Cook the pasta according to the instructions and drain well

  9. Return to the pan and add the sauce, mixing well

  10. Top with some black pepper and herbs before serving

*Skip this if using cooked lentils
Providence Row is a charitable company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales with company number 07452798 and registered charity number 1140192. Its registered office is at The Dellow Centre, 82 Wentworth Street, London, E1 7SA.
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