The Food Chain was founded on Christmas Day 1988, when a group of friends got together to cook and deliver a Christmas Day meal to people living with HIV in London. It was a simple gesture of support and friendship during some of the worst years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Thirty five years later, The Food Chain still holds strong to that same idea: that food brings people together.
Things look different today. It’s now possible to medically manage HIV to the extent that someone with an undetectable viral load cannot pass on the virus (U=U). Progress in this area deserves to be celebrated and shouted about, but we must also remember that for some, U=U is not a reality. At The Food Chain, our Service Users struggle with multiple, complex and enduring barriers to living well with HIV. Food poverty, immigration complications, mental health difficulties, poor housing, homelessness, chronic illnesses and HIV stigma are just some of the things that we see our Service Users having to navigate every day. When your fridge and your cupboards are bare, your priorities are often simply to try to survive.
Our services are needed in 2023 just as they were in 1988, and while they are we will do all that we can to provide. This year we will celebrate how far we have come and the continued strength of our community. Whether that’s through a 35th birthday cake at the Covent Garden May Fayre (thanks to volunteer baker Sue), a 35km fundraising walk in September (thanks to volunteer ideas-man Ned), or bringing back our Christmas Day meal after a COVID-enduced hiatus (watch this space), we plan to spend this year as we always do – providing food, group meals, cookery classes, dietetic advice and a warm and welcoming space to those living with HIV who need us.
Thank you to everyone who has supported The Food Chain over the years: the founders, donors, staff, Service Users, friends, partners, sponsors and of course most importantly the amazing Food Chain volunteers.