Tej Kohli Foundation Combating Holiday Hunger on the One-O-Clock News on BBC One (June 2020)
ALERT: Communities In Need Of Help To Combat COVID-19 Hunger
If you represent a charity or community group that requires support in ensuring that you can continue to provide food to local people in a sustainable way, please contact our team directly and provide as much information as possible including your telephone number and address. We will endeavour to respond directly as quickly as possible, but we may also refer your enquiry directly to another organisation if we believe that they can better support you.
Wendy and Tej Kohli launched the FundaKohli project in Costa Rica in 2005. Since then the project had operated permanent canteens that provide daily free meals and nutrition to children and families. Meals are available each day after school and also at lunchtime during weekends and school holidays. Funda Kohli has fed hundreds of children every week since 2005 and it is the longest-running program of the Tej Kohli Foundation.
Over its long tenure, FundaKohli has proven how seemingly small interventions such as making sure a child can reliably fill their stomach each day without worry can greatly impact their prospects and life outcomes. Malnourished children are less able to focus and learn children, so those who do not have consistent access to good quality nutrition often suffer from an education slump from which they never recover.
Childhood hunger can also result in mental and physical health problems. The physical effects include a lack of energy, lower immunity and poor growth, and an increased risk of Type II diabetes and cancer. Social, emotional and behavioural effects from a lack of consistent nutrition include frustration, anxiety and a lack of social engagement.
YouCubeBox.com is a youth-focused UK food initiative created by the Tej Kohli Foundation that aims to ‘repackage’ food provision as an ‘off-the-shelf’ initiative that charity and volunteer groups can adopt to combat holiday hunger within their own local community.
In 2018 there were over 1.2 million children in England who were left without free school meals during the school holidays. For many younger people who rely on free school meals during term time, the school holidays are a time of anxiety. A lack of food at home outside of term time leads them to experience holiday hunger and malnutrition.
These young people having to visit food banks with their families is a quick way to diminish their aspirations and ambitions before their life has even started. So YouCube instead seeks to redesign the experience of young people receiving food help to make them feel cared for, special, motivated and empowered to be at their best. YouCube is also an online community that can be utilised as an additional source of support, guidance and uplifting content.
YouCube was designed to combat holiday hunger but was launched in May 2020 when schools closed for the Coronavirus lockdown and children were trapped at home. A pilot scheme with Southall Community Alliance launched in May 2020 now provides a weekly YouCube to 400 families with children that have either been referred by local schools or sourced directly through social media. Each YouCube seeks to nurture the potential of the individual and is filled with enough good quality food to feed a small family for one week.
YouCube provides real support to younger people without placing them into a position of ‘helplessness’ or turning them into a ‘generic’ recipient of ‘charity’. It is a best-in-class example of how to make small interventions that elevate and support underprivileged young people. In the UK a YouCube is delivered to young people every week during all school holidays when those who are reliant on their free school meals need some extra help.
Each YouCube also contains inspirational quotes, uplifting stories and words of advice, and encourages recipients to be proud of being a ‘YouCuber’ and to post images and videos of their ‘unboxing’ as they discover the contents of their latest YouCube. As well as food and ingredients, each YouCube also includes items such as new books, recipes and art supplies.
The Tej Kohli Foundation’s approach of making direct interventions to change lives also extends to supporting grassroots charities and organisations. In May 2020 the Tej Kohli Foundation made a commitment to a local branch of The Salvation Army in Feltham, UK, to provide enough funding to double what the local branch was spending per head during the COVID-19 crisis on the delivery of weekly food parcels to families whose children would usually be receiving free school meals.
The Foundation has also committed to continuing to fund food parcels for the same 300 families during every school holiday for the next two years to combat holiday hunger within the local community. This type of funding alleviates struggling families from the constant burden of worry, which empowers and helps them to flourish and do better.
When supporting local community food movements, the Tej Kohli Foundation looks for grassroots initiatives that can deliver a ‘multiplier effect’ by combining the power of volunteers, community engagement, preferential supply deals and deep local knowledge to deliver multiples of value and impact from every £1 of funding provided.
The Tej Kohli Foundation is able to provide crisis response to communities around the world who are facing hunger due to unexpected or unforeseen events. Most recently in the United Kingdom the Foundation has been giving support to the volunteer grassroots movements that have sprung up in response to COVID-19 to combat hunger within their local communities. The challenge facing many of these groups is how to continue to serve their community when volunteers return to their jobs and food donations dwindle.
In The UK the Tej Kohli Foundation has partnered with community group Guru Maneyp Granth Gurdwara (GMGG) Outreach to create the capacity to deliver 100,000 cooked meals each week to any charities or volunteer groups who need more free food to distribute into their local community. Outreach currently delivers 50,000 meals each week from the kitchens of a Sikh temple in Slough.
The partnership is ready to supply more charities and community groups and encourages those who need help to get in touch. New volunteers and food donors are also welcome.
The Sikh tradition of ‘langar’ has existed for over 500 years. The partnership between the Foundation and Outreach is taking ‘langar’ out into communities to continue to enable local volunteer groups and charities to continue to provide food to those in need. The project is about uniting people together regardless of race, religion or social background and making sure that nobody is going hungry because of the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis
Charities and community groups seeking support should visit: