Selma has been a FoodCycle guest for a number of years, having discovered our weekly community meals when she lived in Newcastle. After moving to London, she decided to explore the growing number of Projects across the capital.
Living alone with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), she has found eating out can be a lonely experience. She believes that organisations such as FoodCycle are great examples when it comes to breaking down social barriers and creating spaces that are inclusive and welcoming.
I don’t do much cooking at home because I’m not a good cook, plus I’m on my own and don’t have family. It’s nice to come to a place where it’s about social interaction as well as great food.
In mainstream cafes and bars the normal social rules means you aren’t welcome to go up to people and sit next to them, so you end up sitting alone. At FoodCycle it’s different, everyone is alright sitting with each other and you meet different people – particularly as there are Projects across London.
Its particularly helpful at times like Easter and Christmas when, if you’re alone, there’s nothing to do and limited public transport. When you don’t have a family, you’re really out on a limb and even if you have friends, you can’t get near them because they’re with their family. If you’re not related to somebody, you’re not welcome with them.
I think it’s good to have meals that are not just for people who are homeless and people with bad circumstances, but where everybody is welcome. People get a better chance of learning to mix with different social types and you develop a better understanding of people and a better level of general social tolerance and acceptance. You feel like an equal and I think that’s really great.
FoodCycle has really good cooks who know how to do the best thing with the food they’ve got. The volunteers must have a good culinary knowledge base, because they get random food and know how to make the right flavour combinations to make the meal at its best. You also don’t get a lot of highly processed vegetarian food pretending to be meat, its all cooked from scratch using fresh vegetables.
I discovered FoodCycle when I lived in Newcastle and then I found out that it is a national network with Projects around the country. And though I’m not actually vegetarian as a rule, the meals are delicious. It’s nice to have the company, instead of just trying to cook things on your own and you often eating the same thing everyday. I’ve known of people who cook on their own and then you’re stuck in a bubble. and It’s great to be able to get out here and share a meal and sit at a table and meet others.
That’s it’s really good! There is a lot of stigma around community meals and for people who have mental health problems like depression, bipolar disorder or people like me, who have Asperger’s syndrome – or people who are homeless or struggling with addiction – who don’t fit in with the norm. At FoodCycle you can be yourself and it’s okay. I think the rest of society should take a leaf out of this book and learn to welcome everyone – rather than expecting people to be a certain way.
Stay in touch with the FoodCycle family. Sign-up to get the latest news, volunteering opportunities, events and updates sent to you every month. You can unsubscribe at any time.