The Farm Africa blog: Having a ball

The  Staff Canteen

This is the third in a series of quarterly blogs from Farm Africa, a charity with important links to the hospitality industry trying to end hunger in eastern Africa.

How your restaurant can have fun and help tackle global hunger? Looking for a really fun way to combine a bit of team building among staff and colleagues at your restaurant with raising money for a really worthwhile cause? If that’s a question you’ve been pondering for a while, Farm Africa can help. Why support Farm Africa? You may already have come across us thanks to Staff Canteen which has published two of our blogs earlier this year. We’re a charity that’s making a big difference in the fight to end one of the biggest problems facing our planet: hunger. It may not attract the headlines, but hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria and TB combined. So it’s a serious problem and it requires an effective response. That’s why we have developed a different approach that does not focus on yet more food hand-outs. These inevitably run out in the end, bringing everyone back to square one. Instead we’re there on the ground providing smallholder farmers with the skills and expertise they need to overcome challenges like plant disease and drought, and to increase their yields.

And unlike the food hand-outs, these skills last a lifetime, helping farmers to go on growing food long after our projects move on to other communities that need our support. Put simply, we’re helping Africa’s farmers to feed Africa’s people. This is all great, I hear you say, but why does any of it matter to us chefs and restaurant people here in the UK? Well, we all live in a globalised world and are increasingly connected. And in the restaurant world that means relying on food supply chains that are becoming ever more global. They can stretch from a remote field in rural Africa to the dining tables in our restaurants. So we need these supply chains to last – and that means supporting smallholder farmers struggling to grow food in exceptionally challenging circumstances. The sort of food produced by the farmers we work with in eastern Africa may be a world away from what’s served up in restaurants in the UK. But it’s food that’s sustaining lives. And with more food come choices. Released from the daily struggle of simply finding enough to eat, farmers are able to focus on life’s important things – like sending their children to school. None of this happens, however, without a lot of help from outside. And that’s where you in come in.

How chefs and restaurants can get involved

Last year Farm Africa brought together leading chefs Ashley Palmer-Watts (Dinner by Heston Blumenthal), Paul Foster (The Dining Room, Mallory Court Hotel), John Freeman (Restaurant Sat Bains) and star Maitre D’, Paolo de Tarso (Bar Boulud) to climb Africa’s highest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The four restaurateurs raised thousands of pounds from the climb for Food for Good – a major fundraising campaign set up by the food and hospitality sectors to support Farm Africa’s work to end hunger in eastern Africa. Since then, the Food for Good campaign has gone from strength to strength. It has been turning heads throughout the hospitality world thanks to a series of challenge events that are great fun to take part in - but just as importantly, these events have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for Farm Africa’s life-changing work in eastern Africa.

Just one example is a major Food for Good Ball that featured a stunning three course dinner prepared by chef Jason Atherton of Pollen Street Social. A huge range of people from right across the food and hospitality sectors were there, raising over £140,000 for us on the night. And if that all sounds a bit high-brow, chefs  and restaurants from across the UK have battled it out on the football fields of Cambridge and Birmingham in six-a-side tournaments organised by Paul Foster, raising thousands more in the process. None of this has gone unnoticed among the movers and shakers of the restaurant world. Farm Africa’s life-changing work in eastern Africa has been recognised by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List by making us their official charity for the past two years. And in another indication of Farm Africa’s growing status as the charity of choice for the food and hospitality sectors, we have been invited to showcase our work at The Restaurant Show in Earl’s Court London between 6 and 8 October. So if you’re at this year’s Restaurant Show, why not come to the Centre Stage on 8 October? Paul Foster and Mark Poynton (Alimentum) will be talking about why they support Farm Africa, as well as whipping up some Africa-inspired dishes in just 30 minutes. We’ll be there too so you can come and talk to us about how you or your restaurant can join up and get involved in Food for Good? Other dates for your diary are our third six-a-side football tournament, this time taking place in Slough on Sunday 21 September. It’s still not too late to enter a team.

Or you and your restaurant can take part in Give Hunger the Boot, Farm Africa’s annual fundraising appeal. Taking part at work is easy – just stage a ‘wellies at work day’ where everyone gets sponsored to wear their wellies in to work. The campaign has received endorsement from figures no less than Ashley Palmer-Watts and Ainsley Harriot. To find out more – and to see Ashley and Ainsley looking resplendent in their wellies – just go to:[email protected] You don’t need to climb a mountain or skydive from an aeroplane. It could be something as simple as entering a team into one of our football competitions. Or taking part in a five mile fun run.

Whatever it is, we can help in organising an event that’s both hugely enjoyable and successful in raising funds for our life-changing work. So please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

E: [email protected]

T: 020 7430 0440

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th September 2014

The Farm Africa blog: Having a ball