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.

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!

STILL Feeding the Need: Supporting the refugees in Calais

The refugee crisis in Calais and Dunkirk is presently worse than it’s ever been and help is needed more now than ever. This film is an overview of the present situation and a plea for help.

Since the dismantlement of the Calais Jungle and the fire in Dunkirk, Refugee Community Kitchen is now the only organisation from the UK making food and are currently serving 2500 portions a day.

The refugees continue to arrive, fleeing their uninhabitable homelands – hoping to find some peace and a place to settle. They are living in extremely difficult conditions, they have no services and no safe places. As there are no camps, they are being forced into the woods and wasteland, avoiding the authorities and face continual police harassment.

All volunteering, donations and sharing of info is greatly appreciated. Please spread the word and/or volunteer if you can spare the time.

Appeal for Refugee Community Kitchen Rebuild

For over a year we have fed an average of 1500 refugees every day in the Calais area. Our diverse, delicious and nutritious meals have been received with gratitude and we are currently serving 2000 hot meals a day in Calais and Dunkirk, through static distribution and outreach as well as making weekly drops of food provisions for 4 unofficial camps in the Nor Pas de Calais area, helping an additional 500/600 people.

With our grassroots partners we have recently gone through the French courts and succeeded in upholding our right to distribute food and non-food aid free from police harassment and most time constraints. We have now been informed by the police that the prefecture has had to order all police to not obstruct or intimidate us in any way. They clearly did not fancy being shamed in court about their illegal and inhumane actions.

This means we can carry on with or essential work each and every day, with the only constraint being that we finish by 8pm. The food at the moment is really a life line to a growing community of displaced people that have no other support or infrastructure, the food is vital, the water is vital!

We have also compiled with the dictates of numerous government health inspections but are now being forced to build an entirely new kitchen! Whilst this build is taking place we will first have to set up a temporary field kitchen to be able to maintain the supply of hot food.

In Calais our largest compliance task is to create a new sanitary room to house our new kitchen. Work has started and we will use our kitchen truck and the neighbouring warehouse to carry on our current formidable output, to illustrate the volume, we are using 1000kg of rice every 4 days!

This new build needs lots of support to make it happen and avoid the kitchen being shut down. To close would result in hundreds of destitute refugees going without food in Calais environs.

Our new fundraiser has been created to raise the £35,000 needed for the rebuild with all the monies being spent on materials whilst the work is carried out by our incredible band of skilled volunteers.

We know with your incredible support we can re-build and continue our work so…. Please share! Please RT! Please donate!