LONDON - Hilton has given social enterprise Open Kitchens a major boost by opening up enough kitchen space to accept deliveries of up to 10 tonnes of surplus food per week, enabling the initiative to double its output and provide 50,000 more free meals a month to those in need, using produce which would previously have had to be thrown away.
One in eight people in the UK has difficulty accessing regular food1 – a figure which continues to grow as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – whilst 250,000 tonnes of surplus edible food is thrown away annually.2 As demand from restaurants and caterers has dwindled during the pandemic, the amount of surplus food available has increased exponentially, leading to a major uptick in donations to foodbanks and charities such as FareShare, The Felix Project and City Harvest. Much of the produce however – originally destined for professional kitchens – comes in bulk, or requires preparation by a chef, before it can be distributed further. Open Kitchens aims to solve both challenges by using this surplus food, prepared in currently unused kitchen space in restaurants, to distribute free meals to those who need it most.
To begin with, Open Kitchens was forced to turn down huge quantities of food due to lack of storage capacity. In response, Hilton has stepped in to turn high-capacity hotel kitchens, which usually cater for large-scale conferences and events, into regional Kitchen Hubs which will accept deliveries of up to 10 tonnes of surplus food per week.
The new Kitchen Hubs – situated at Hilton Birmingham Metropole, Hilton London Metropole, Hilton East Midlands Airport, Hilton Nottingham and Hampton by Hilton Sheffield, will store food before it is delivered to local restaurants for preparation and distribution. The new model will empower Open Kitchens to feed an additional 50,000 people each month, taking its services into communities close to these cities – where previously a lack of nearby storage space for bulk deliveries had prevented it from operating at scale.
In addition to the Kitchen Hubs, Hilton London Metropole – Hilton’s largest hotel in the UK – will serve as a community kitchen. The hotel’s chefs will prepare 1,000 meals a week to be distributed via The Felix Project to people in need including the homeless, children who rely on free school meals, the elderly and those living in isolation, with ambitions for more community kitchens in Hilton hotels to be added in the coming weeks.
Russell Impiazzi, Executive Head Chef, Hilton London Metropole said: “We’ve always been passionate about using our culinary skills to support our local community and tackle food waste, so when we get the opportunity to do both – and for such an important cause – it’s something the whole team is genuinely excited about. Hospitality has an incredible ability to bring people together and above all else, to do the right thing and put people first. That’s what we will continue to try and do. In committing to provide over 12,000 meals in the coming weeks, we have the fun challenge of working with the amazing suppliers, producers, charities and foodbanks trying hard to find homes for the vast amounts of surplus that would otherwise go to waste, and using it to create something delicious for those who desperately need it.”
Adam Roberts, CEO of Open Kitchens said: “Open Kitchens was borne from a desperate need to reach the individuals who have been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis. In just seven weeks, we’ve opened up 32 restaurant kitchens to provide more than 100,000 meals to those in need – relying on public donations and support from businesses. The magnitude of this challenge is enormous. With Hilton’s Kitchen Hubs we’ll be able to ramp up our operation on a scale like no other – feeding more people in more corners of the country and diverting more food from being wasted.”
Stephen Cassidy, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Hilton said: “It’s been heartening to see the hospitality industry come together to support local communities during this pandemic – offering food, kitchen space and manpower to ensure key workers and vulnerable individuals don’t go hungry. We’ve been incredibly impressed by Open Kitchens’ ability to quickly react to this challenging situation with an innovative solution, and we look forward to being on this fast-paced journey with them through the course of the pandemic and beyond.”
Mark Curtin, CEO of The Felix Project, says: “The Felix Project have been working on the forefront of the coronavirus crisis to get food out to people in need across London. The need is so great that we have had to quadruple our output. Open Kitchens – and this new partnership with Hilton – are the crucial link to convert existing food supply into the cooked meals which so many people desperately need. We’re incredibly grateful to Open Kitchens and to Hilton for helping create a viable solution so we can continue to support communities in need.”
To donate to Open Kitchens, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/openkitchensuk.
To find out more about how Hilton is supporting the communities in which it operates during the Covid-19 crisis, visit newsroom.hilton.com/corporate/page/11937.
1 According to Open Kitchens – based on the FAO UN Voices of the Hungry Report 2016, using the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) to measure hunger
2 According to Wrap Surplus food redistribution in the UK; 2015 to 2017
About Travel with Purpose
Travel with Purpose is Hilton’s corporate responsibility strategy to redefine and advance sustainable travel globally. By 2030, we plan to double our investment in social impact and cut our environmental footprint by half. We track, analyze and report our environmental and social impact at each of Hilton’s more than 6,100 hotels through LightStay, our award-winning performance management system. Travel with Purpose capitalizes on Hilton’s global scale to catalyze local economic growth; respect human rights; invest in people and local communities; and preserve our planet by reducing our impact on natural resources. Our strategy aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Visit cr.hilton.com to learn more.
About Open Kitchens
More resources including imagery, logos and a video explaining the concept can be found here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1nfKubBrFQyA4HDtDRqiWw9VJgU8H8JxU?usp=sharing
Central Just Giving page: https://justgiving.com/crowdfunding/openkitchensuk
About the Felix Project
The Felix Project is a London-based charity working to reduce food waste and food poverty. We collect food from supermarkets, wholesalers and other food suppliers right across the commercial food industry – food that is fresh and nutritious but cannot be sold for various reasons. We deliver this food free of charge to charities and schools, serving people who are extremely vulnerable and living at the margins of society. Our business model is very lean, with every £1 donated delivering over £5 of good food to people in need. Right now, we are on the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis, providing food to vulnerable families and children, the elderly, the homeless, refugees, domestic abuse survivors and people who are simply struggling to find and afford food. In April we rescued and delivered enough food for 1.6 million meals.
Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 18 world-class brands comprising 7,000 properties and 1.1 million rooms, in 122 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its founding vision to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality, Hilton has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, earned a top spot on Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For list and been recognized as a global leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for five consecutive years. Hilton has introduced several industry-leading technology enhancements to improve the guest experience, including Digital Key Share, automated complimentary room upgrades and the ability to book confirmed connecting rooms. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, the 139 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can't buy. With the free Hilton Honors app, guests can book their stay, select their room, check in, unlock their door with a Digital Key and check out, all from their smartphone. Visit stories.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.