This article was published in the Edinburgh Evening News on March 24th 2022.
An Edinburgh community food organisation which provides thousands of emergency meals a day to all corners of the capital has received official charity status today to the delight of staff and volunteers.
One month shy of the its two year anniversary, Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts became recognised as a charity by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in what staff described as a “monumental moment”.
The Granton based organisation, setup by chefs in April 2020 as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, is now made up of roughly 250 staff and volunteers and provides up to 1400 nutritious meals a day to people in need across the city.
Janet Jones, Head of finance and business said: “Becoming a registered charity will open up new funding opportunities which we’re greatly in need of.”
She added: “Although the majority of the food we use is donated, it still costs us around £40,000 each month to operate, and with food and fuel costs steeply rising, we anticipate our costs will greatly increase, along with the demand for our service.”
During the pandemic, Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts (EKFH) severed up over one million nutritious meals made from surplus food and they now edge closer to reaching the 1.5 million milestone.
Janet said: “EKFH truly is a community organisation, dreamt up with the goal in mind of feeding hungry people while making use of literal tonnes of food which would otherwise go to waste.”
“To say it’s a monumental moment for the organisation would be an understatement.”
Volunteer, Una Phelan, who has worked with EKFH since May 2020 described the news as “incredible” and said that providing nearly 1.5 million meals was a “fantastic feeling.”
Una said: “So many amazing people have helped to shape Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts into what it is today."
She added: “To have had such a positive impact on so many people’s lives is a wonderful achievement for all the volunteers here.
Una also acknowledged the, “hundreds (if not thousands) of volunteers who’ve made the charity what it is today”, adding, “there are countless Edinburgh businesses who have been part of our journey to get us to where we are today.”
Prior to achieving charitable status, EKFH had operated as a Community Interest Company, originally making meals from food donations at Bridgend Farmhouse, then setting up shop at The Old Dr Bell’s Baths, Leith Theatre, before moving to Granton in December last year.
Though the venue has changed several times, the charity’s mission has always been consistent.
Janet said: “One of the things that came out of the pandemic was that massive outpouring of people wanting to help other people.
“I think that Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts harvested all of that energy and brought together a massive group of volunteers from all sorts of backgrounds and levels of experience with a common purpose and common will to make a bit of good – that will always be our legacy.”