Two Kingston chefs are preparing food hampers to feed struggling families over the festive season.
Cookery teacher Laura Ercolani, 42, is leaving boxes outside her home with food supplies, home baked goods and freshly-prepared pasta dishes by Giuseppe Prestigiacomo, 47, owner of Kingston’s Peppe Restaurant.
This effort is inspired by the success of mum-of-two Ercolani’s October half term campaign in which she provided 63 meals for children in need and raised more than £300 in one week.
Ercolani said: “Some families approached me and asked if I had planned anything for Christmas.
“There is still a need and we would like to make food accessible to as many people as possible.”
From 10 December until 3 January 2021, Ercolani and Prestigiacomo are encouraging those in need to collect goods and get in touch with specific food requests.
Ercolani experienced financial hardship first-hand only three years ago and revealed some people feel a sense of shame attending a food bank.
She hopes her arrangement will provide families the privacy they need to reach out for help.
So far, the hampers have gone to people isolating due to Covid-19, those struggling on benefits and others who cannot work due to medical conditions.
Prestigiacomo, better known as “Peppe” is donating his Italian dishes after a year spent providing for his local community.
Since the first national lockdown in March, he donated free pizzas to Kingston Hospital staff, emergency service workers and children and has raised money for the Shooting Star Hospice and Kingston’s Homeless Centre.
The father-of-two will also be cooking a free lunch on Christmas Day for families in need and collecting toys for children in partnership with St Agatha’s Church in Kingston.
Since moving from Italy to the UK in 2000, Prestigiacomo has spent Christmas Day cooking for staff at his restaurant who are also far from home.
Covid-19 has prevented this annual tradition, but Prestigiacomo revealed he was still determined to do something.
He said: “We need to make sense of this Christmas.
“And there is still so much to do for our local community.”
The pair, once more, have been heartened by the overwhelming response from the community who are keeping the hampers continually stocked with their generous donations.
Within 24 hours of launching a fundraising page, Ercolani raised £600 which will go towards funding supplies and the Kingston Foodbank.
“At the end of the day, it is a community effort” she said.
“It just takes somebody to start and the rest come along.”
To support the initiative please visit the justgiving page.
Featured image credit: Laura Ercolani