It’s 11.30am and the temperature is much milder than it was a few weeks ago in Clapham Junction. The back of Bramlands Close, a series of small buildings nested between Grant Road and Falcon Road, beside Providence House, is abnormally busy. A few people are unloading crates of fresh vegetables from the side of a large van parked outside, when others are already distributing the food to those who have comein. It’s all free, first come first served.
“Take those” says Hadas, throwing two handfulls of small oranges into the bag of a lady; “and are you sure you don’t want some chives also? Look, they’re like onions”; “before you go, take some fennels with you“. Full of energy, the woman is everywhere, helping with the distribution, getting these crates out, showing where to put those boxes and coordinating the next delivery and the volunteers. She got up at dawn this morning to go to New Covent Garden market to get some unwanted fresh food (products that are close to their sell-by-date). Is she tired? “Not really“, she answers.
It all started with a visit at New Covent Garden market
Waste Not Want Not (WNWN) is a local charity that was founded five years ago by Hadas Hagos. In 2015, she decided to dedicate her time to home-schooling her daughter, who was 9 then. She partnered with a friend (who has since set up a nursery) to set up the Inside Out School and they taught a few local children about science and maths, exploring their neighbourhood and learning about Battersea.
One day, they brought the kids to New Covent Garden in Nine Elms, the UK’s premier wholesale location, to learn about food. They were shocked to see pallets of blueberry trays, artichokes, organic duck eggs… perfectly edible and safe food, but all for waste and ready to be thrown out.
They took as much as they could carry, and for a few days they cooked meals and invited their friends. It soon became known as “Feast & Film”, a regular event on the first Friday of every month where they cooked up a feast meal at The Venue Community Centre in The Doddington Estate, and screened an inspiration film to bring people together.
As it became more and more popular, they thought they could distribute every week and in 2017 Waste Not Want Not was born.
The most important is to avoid waste
WNWN is the first project in Battersea to collect surplus food from nearby markets and distribute it through the local community and youth centres. “The most important aspect of this project is to avoid waste. I hate food wasting. Everyone can come and get some of the things we have collected” said Hadas.
Four days a week they go to New Covent Garden market at 4am to collect waste fruits and vegetables. They also get plenty of bread from Gail’s in Northcote Road (nowadays, they partner with the Mosque in Falcon Road, which collects all waste bread from Gail’s and Waste Not Want Not gets a share) and fruits and vegetables from WholeFoods in Lavender Hill on Saturday and Sundays. “We get amazing food from WholeFoods, they are great people” said Hadas.
In the past they also got food from Waitrose but nowadays the supermarket gives to FairShare Go. Marks & Spenser only allows one unique charity for a period of time, currently Battersea Power Station Foundation, which is not suitable for WNWN.
They not only collect fresh waste food but get donations from Menu Speciality Food, one of the UK’s leading catering suppliers & wholesalers of Mediterranean and Italian chef ingredients, which gives them cans, pasta, coffee, frozen food… etc.
They distribute fruits, vegetables and bread every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11am to 1pm in Bramlands close and in Cromwell House, Doddington estate Battersea on Saturday and Sunday (where they also cook for people).
This is open to anyone, rich or poor, no question asked. Hadas and her group enjoy sharing food and bring the community together. The most important thing is to prevent waste.
They operate with a van and the financial support of bigger charities
In order to be early in New Covent Garden market and collect as much as they can, they needed more than Hadas’ electric cargo-bike (although it’s always useful for them when there is no other vehicle).
At first, a diesel van was given to them, but they were charged ULEZ. Although they were helping families with food sharing, they received more than £7000 fines in 2020 (later reduced to £1250).
They bought an electric vehicle last year, but unfortunately it broke the day after. Nowadays, they operate with a van that was sold to them for £4000 (“a gift“, said Hadas).
They occupy a vacant shop in Bramlands Close owned by the Council. During lockdown, Robert Musgrave, who runs the youth club and community charity in Providence House, contacted the Council on behalf of WNWN to find better premises for the Charity to operate from. Wandsworth agreed to give them a licence agreement for a place that was previously abandoned.
Hadas is currently in talks with the Council to get a 10-year lease with a 5-year breaking close. She needs a long lease to justify investing in renovating the property (heating system, windows, vents… a lot needs to be installed or replaced). She has already architect images that she submitted to the Council.
The previous Tory administration had plans to redevelop the area with a series of skyscrapers, but although the masterplan for Winstanley and York estates redevelopment (including the Bramlands) was approved, there is currently no indication of what will eventually happen as work is planned in phases over 10-15 years.
Nevertheless WNWN use the place to keep some of the equipment they bought or were given, such as fridges, freezers, cookers, etc, in addition to all the food supply they collect.
As you can imagine, in order to operate all of that they need money. She employs 4 people: a volunteer coordinator, a food sharing person, a driver and a personal assistant (once a week) and pays herself very little for her time and effort.
A huge Christmas meal to organise this Sunday
On December 25th the team at Waste Not Want Not Battersea will be cooking all day and serving at least 250 Christmas dinner. There will be a choice of 150 meals with turkey, 50 meals with fish and 50 meals for vegetarians.
Following from last year’s success, they are partnering with Providence House again to host the community for Christmas Dinner. All meals are sponsored and everyone can attend if they have signed up on their website.
In addition, the community can also sign up to pick up meals and presents to take away, or have them delivered to their homes if they cannot travel.
Past and future projects
During lockdown, they started cooking food in the Hall of St Michael Church in Bolingbroke Grove. They contacted nearby schools and with the help of 40 volunteers, they supplied and delivered cooked food and fresh fruits and vegetables to more than a hundred families on free school meals. Hadas and the WNWN volunteers were also running a Healthy Eating Café in Providence House for homeless people.
Sometime they run workshops to teach about food and cooking. Events are mainly organised at The Venue Community Centre or Providence House.
The Community Composting Project
Hadas is not short of ideas. She has just launched a Community Composting Project to enable community organisations, schools and local gardens, to easily compost any food waste that they have.
She has bought 15 hot composters for donation to local organisations and schools (Sacred Heart and St Mary’s Catholic schools in Battersea have already taken two of them).
Food sharing three days a week – Come and collect:
WHERE: 9-10 Bramlands Close, SW11 2NT
- Tuesday 11am-1pm
- Wednesday 11am-1pm
- Thursdays 11am-1pm
If you’d like to be informed about when this happens, join their Whatsapp broadcast list: https://chat.whatsapp.com/I5U5ojbvtsdA5d3c899zQ7
- ROSE community hub (until the end of February 2023): Mondays 2pm-7pm
- Cromwell House Community hub: Saturday and Sunday 4-7 pm
- You can help Waste Not Want Not by donating: Waste Not Want Not Battersea GoFundMe
UPDATE 04/01/2023: We previously wrote that the Council refused to give a lease to WNWN but this was not accurate. WNWN is currently discussing the possibility with the Council.
The Zero waste food Hub in Bramlands Close is currently closed for a few weeks, in order to prepare for renovation. Once they re-open, they plan to extend the opening time to many more days in the week, including hot meals.
SEE MORE INFORMATION directly on their website: https://www.wastenotwantnot-battersea.org/