Latest from Calais…

We hope you are warm and enjoying the wintery blast….here is a small update:

We resumed evening hot food service in Calais after not serving for 4 days. We suspended our service in order to encourage the uptake of new hot food distributions by La Vie Active (LVA), which were the result of the overdue decision by the French Government to engage with a daily meal service for displaced peoples in the region. In the early days there was little to no attendance at LVA food distributions, so we started to complement their offering with hot food and tea in the evenings.

The reason people were not coming was mostly down to trust and safety issues, as people saw LVA as the same as the government sanctioned police who show daily aggression and hostility towards them. There is now slightly more uptake of their food offering (breakfast + lunch). We commend LVA for adapting their distribution techniques, serving outside of the compound and reaching out to the different areas and communities, it seems to be working slowly.

We will continue with Calais evening service (600-650 portions), Dunkirk daily (300-400) and outreach in London (200-250 portions per week).

Our wonderful volunteers and chefs are working hard to make nutrient rich, colourful food. Our dishes are made with huge amounts of love and creativity and we’ve taken the rainbow diet concept to next level with a rainbow bulb in one of our extractors hoods!

Huge thanks to all our supporters and sister organisations – L’Auberge des Migrants InternationalHelp Refugees & Utopia 56.

Much love, stay warm xx

RCK Temporarily Halts Food Distribution in Calais

Yesterday, for the first time in 28 months, Refugee Community Kitchen did not serve hot food in Calais. This being due to the local authorities fulfilling the promise made by president Macron to provide food to refugees sleeping rough in Calais.

RCK has temporarily halted food distributions in Calais for a number of reasons including:

  • allowing the gov-funded distributions time to succeed
  • avoiding blame by the gov and press for a lack of recipients
  • the authorities have threatened to fine our vehicles if we return to our regular distribution point (where we’ve been serving hot meals twice daily to about 400 refugees who sleep rough in the woods and nearby wastelands for over a year).

Below is footage of the new government-funded distribution point, which is in a compound surrounded by fences that are ominously crowned with razor wire. The wall of journalists waiting inside to film was most inappropriate and completely deaf to the peoples’ needs and safety. The food consisted of beef and potatoes. No fresh vegetables.

We’re still busy today, making 400 meals for the Dunkirk community and creating nutritious and sustaining ‘cold’ food packs for people in the region who are able to cook for themselves.

Our teams are visiting all of the new distribution points to talk with and listen to refugees on the ground so that we can hear their needs and share this information with the govt-funded associations in order that they can succeed.

All that being said, hundreds of people refused to go to the govt-funded food distributions yesterday, some for political reasons (people won’t accept food until the government halts its violent evictions and confiscation of their belongings) and others out of mistrust for authorities who are known to fill sleeping bags with pepper spray in the middle of the night.

While we hope that the French government will step up and fulfil its duty to support and protect the vulnerable people living on its soil, we are committed to making sure that no one is overlooked or undernourished in northern France.

Volunteering for RCK

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” — Unknown

Wishing you all a Peaceful & Happy New Year!

Daily distribution of food

Our Calais lunch distribution goes like this:

We set up two tables with 3 volunteers serving rice, curry & salad at each table.

Set up a table for condiments and a table for hot tea.

One person gives plates and another person, the ‘runner,’ moves between the tables replacing ‘gastros’ as their contents run low.

Once most people have food, one table shuts down and the non-serving volunteers collect litter and chat with people.

The distribution takes about two hours.

Rain or shine, we’re out there showing solidarity and providing hot food and hopefully a tiny break from the miserable, muddy cold.

Please help us help people by sharing & donating what you can!

Our new kitchen is up and running!

It never even crossed our minds to close when the French authorities told us we’d need to undertake this massive, expensive project!

With your continued support and the work of amazing volunteers of Refugee Community Kitchen we built a new kitchen. We are so full of gratitude Matt CurtisThomas ChambonAlex Ch and everyone else who made this happen. Thank you!

New kitchen…nearly ready!

Six months ago we balked when the French authorities told us we needed to upgrade to a restaurant grade kitchen if we wanted to continue supporting refugees. The same authorities who where taking shoes, slashing sleeping bags and spraying pepper spray in water tanks, were concerned that we weren’t washing the salad for displaced peoples correctly. This demand however would bring us up to local norms, and would be a great improvement in functionality.

The amount of money and work needed was immense and intimidating, but after many hundreds of hours of planning, fundraising, and building we are proud to say that our new kitchen is almost ready!