Marking his 75th Birthday, The King, accompanied by The Queen, visited the South Oxfordshire Food and Education Alliance (SOFEA) to launch the Coronation Food Project yesterday.
The organisation will be one of the many supported by His Majesty’s new legacy venture, the Coronation Food Project, which has been inspired by Charles’ work in tackling food waste and educating others around food supply and production. The Project will seek to bridge the gap between food waste and food need across the UK, a particularly sensitive issue given the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Charles and Camilla were welcomed by Richard and Ruth Kennell, who founded and run the SOFEA. Richard explained the types of food received at the centre and how the Coronation Food Project will make a difference.
Since its creation in 2014, SOFEA has helped over 400 young people to gain the qualifications, skills and work experience whilst transforming their communities through projects such as food distribution.
The couple met staff and volunteers who bring in the surplus food and redistribute it to 120 community organisations in need across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire.
Their Majesties viewed a presentation showcasing where the Coronation Food Project hubs will be situated, and got to know a number of Coronation Food supporters who currently use food banks.
The Coronation Food Project will support similar food networks to the South Oxfordshire Food and Education Alliance across the UK to reuse and re-distribute greater amounts of surplus food, not only reducing food waste, but supporting those who need it.
There are three key aspects to the Coronation Food Project:
– Saving more surplus food
– Supercharging food distribution networks to ensure surplus produce can reach those who need it most, through the creation of several Coronation Food Hubs
– Delivering a flexible funding programme to support the wider sector and a consortium of pioneering food-rescue initiatives.
Fairshare food vans were loaded and ready with goods for distribution, which the royal visitors got to see, before they headed to the facility’s small kitchen garden. The King is a keen gardener himself, and supports organic farming.
Four packing stations for surplus food, which will be distributed to a range of community organisations in the area, also received time with the Royals.
At the end of the visit, The King bought a copy of the Big Issue from seller Kelvin, revealing – unlike the late Queen, unless she was attending church – he does carry cash on him, when the Monarch gave Kelvin a £10 note. Charles appears on the cover of latest issue of the magazine, in which he writes exclusively about his thoughts on food waste and his new legacy project.
The Big Issue seller appeared delighted by the gesture. Speaking after Kelvin said: ‘He is a good man. He is using his position to facilitate change. His mother would be proud of him. She was a benevolent and kind person [too].’
The King has settled the old age question of whether the monarch handles cash….as he slipped Big Issue seller Kelvin, 61, from London, a £10 note, telling him “This is for you.”
Charles launched his Coronation Food Project today, aimed at tackling food waste after appearing on… pic.twitter.com/iVE5HTT2Yy
— Russell Myers (@rjmyers) November 14, 2023
This project will aim to build on The King’s work in this area, leaving a legacy for May’s coronation ceremony and the start of the new reign.
In December 2022, a £1 million fund was launched, which included a personal donation by The King. Over 800 commercial fridges and freezers have been purchased and distributed to key locations across the UK, transforming the sector’s capacity to save, store and redistribute surplus food.
In 2021 the Prince’s Foundation – recently renamed The King’s Foundation – launched the scheme ‘Food for the Future’ to help educate young people about food supply and production.