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The Graveney Canteen – feeding Tooting since 2013!

The Graveney Canteen – feeding Tooting since 2013!

Volunteers at the Graveney Canteen
 

The Graveney Canteen, a community kitchen, was established in 2013 and serves lunch to around 40 locals each Friday.

Come Friday morning, a handful of volunteers gather in the kitchen of Tooting United Reformed Church to create a delicious two course lunch for the locals to enjoy. The volunteers describe the situation much like the Masterchef secret box challenge –with food donated from Bhavins on Upper Tooting Road and the Tooting Broadway branch of Sainsburys, they combine their knowledge, knowhow (and sometimes the power of Google) to come up with a main dish and dessert based on that day’s donations. Any food they can’t squeeze into the meal is made available for guests to take home with them.

Abigail, who has worked at The Graveney Canteen for a year, coordinates the kitchen activities whilst creating a warm environment and making the guests feel welcome. She mentions that the meal is open to anyone and is a great way of reinforcing a sense of community. If attendees can manage to give a donation on the day, that is welcome, but if they can’t afford it it’s not a problem.
 

Abigail at The Graveney Canteen
 

When I visited the kitchen, the meal being whipped up was a vegetable casserole, followed by banana bread. The volunteers were a youthful, friendly group who had all turned up for different reasons. Some were volunteering whilst job searching and others were on work volunteer days. The kitchen also offers community service places for young offenders. Everyone buzzed around the kitchen like old friends and I was surprised when they told me they had all just met that morning.

Abigail says that there are lots of projects The Graveney Canteen organise, including a collection box for local homeless residents. The box can be found at the church entrance and is for pants, socks and tampons. Donations to the box can be brought along whenever the church is open.

The canteen also hosts a Christmas meal on the 22nd of December. Again, all the ingredients are donated by local businesses and they have 20 volunteers booked in for the day. Santa will be attending, along with a children’s entertainer. If you would like to help, donations of winter woollies, toiletries and Christmas presents can be brought along to the church. Fridays are best to bring these along so that Abigail, or one of the volunteers, can assist you. If you would like to make a donation towards the Christmas meal, you can do so here.

When asked what she loves about Tooting, Abigail speaks of the ‘people of Tooting co-existing in its own ecosystem’. She loves the sense of community and diversity Tooting offers.

To learn more and find out how you can help with a donation or volunteering, visit http://www.be-enriched.org.uk/the-graveney-canteen and you can also follow them on Facebook. There are lots of volunteer spaces open in January and February 2018 and the canteen also welcomes corporate groups for team building days.

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