Community Kitchen’s cooking up a storm in South Norwood

Something quite awe-inspiring is happening in South Norwood.

Open for business: South Norwood Community Kitchen has a vibrant new offer

After six years of what they describe as community activism through food, cooking up and delivering tens of thousands of meals to the elderly, the poor and anyone who wanted some decent food, the South Norwood Community Kitchen has finally moved into permanent premises, embarking on the next stage of their admirable project.

This week has represented something of a “soft launch”, using the kitchens and hall space of the refurbished Socco Cheta centre on Portland Road.

A lot of hard work over the last three years since they were in effect given the keys to the space has taken what was a run-down and uncared-for building and turned it into a shiny new and functioning community centre, backed by the Mayor of London and with organisations including the Croydon United Dominoes Club, Croydon BME Forum, Screen25 and the Association of Jamaicans UK all working together to “ensure that it meets the needs and priorities of all of the local community”.

The South Norwood Community Kitchen opened fully this morning, offering breakfast baps and rolling out its mouth-watering menu of lunchtime meals.

Perhaps most remarkable of all – SNCK doesn’t charge a penny for any of their meals.

On the menu: chicken, sweet corn, chips…

They simply ask for people to pay what they can afford, suggesting a very reasonable £6 for anything from their main menu, which all helps towards the cost of the food, and a contribution towards meals for those less able to pay.

Since 2017, either side of the covid lockdown, SNCK has been operating out of borrowed premises, providing a Saturday lunch for the community using donated food from nearby allotments, supermarket donations of perishable goods close to their sell-by dates, as well as other donations, all blended in with some brilliantly inspired cooking.

On the menu: a Thai-inspired spicy soup

“We wanted to bring great food to everyone in South Norwood and this will enable us to do just that alongside helping us to keep supporting our community to live the best lives they can,” they said this week as they geared up for the opening.

“We officially launch the cafe on July 18 but we are testing out our menu in the run-up to then.

“Come see us, feed the soul and share the love!”

First reactions have been nothing but overwhelmingly positive.

“In absolute awe already at the reaction to Socco Cheta Community Hub and the conversations we have had with every single side of our community who have visited so far.

“Everyone has been inspired by the space with ideas on how we can make a better world for each other. This was our dream – a space to create, to believe and to have fun.

More help needed: volunteers at work in the new kitchen this week

“To break down barriers and envisage something new where we are all invited and all have ownership.

“It’s been a crazy whirlwind so far, and there’s still much to do! It’s the busiest time of our lives but every day just gets that bit better and shows us exactly what a community can do when it takes action for itself.

“We’d love more people to sign up to our Volunteer Rota. The weekly slots are for helping out at our pay-what-you-can caff and the Saturday slots are for our big rambunctious community cookouts.

“Love, smiles, power, food guaranteed.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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