The Independent’s Help The Hungry appeal hit £3m on Friday – a significant milestone reached in less than a month, but one that is tempered by sobering reports of escalating food poverty across London.

In the five weeks since lockdown, The Felix Project, our appeal partner, has become a lifeline for tens of thousands more families, increasing its deliveries of food to vulnerable Londoners from 10 to 40 tons, the equivalent of 100,000 meals a day.

The urgency to address this spiralling humanitarian need is why Barclays has agreed to make a £250,000 donation to our appeal, a grant significant for its generosity as well as its timing – it is the first to be awarded from the £100m Covid-19 Community Aid Fund the bank announced in early April.

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Nigel Higgins, group chair of Barclays, said: “The Felix Project is precisely the kind of cause we had in mind when we created the Barclays £100m Community Aid Fund. It is a charity that has adapted with incredible speed to the crisis to help the most vulnerable in our community. In just five weeks, they have responded to the increased demand for food by quadrupling their output. We hope that our donation, coupled with the campaigning power of The Independent, will help the project grow and reach as many as possible of the one in five Londoners at risk of food poverty.”

Another substantial contribution came in yesterday from the Julia and Hans Rausing Trust, which has assigned £16.5m to charities at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic and has donated £50,000 to our appeal.

Julia and Hans Rausing, heirs of food packing giant Tetra Pak, said: “We have been impressed not only by the speed of The Felix Project’s response to the crisis, but the way in which they have managed to get a number of organisations working together to help people across the capital. Efforts like this support communities across London at this time of need, and we are glad to support their inspiring work.”

We launched our appeal, in association with the Evening Standard, on Friday 27 March and have reached £3m thanks to the generous backing of dozens of London foundations, philanthropists and corporations, including Garfield Weston Foundation, Lansdowne Partners, the Westminster Foundation, Sir Peter Blake, Burberry, Eranda Rothschild Foundation, Citibank and investment holding company Temasek.

More than 1,170 members of the public have contributed, donating £103,837 on our Virgin Money Giving page.

But there is a sense that we are still in the foothills of the economic crisis, with experts warning the government that food poverty is about to get far worse. The Food Foundation has reported that eight million people in Britain face food insecurity and that three million have been missing meals since lockdown. The Institute for Social and Economic Research at University of Essex estimates that 6.5 million jobs could be lost in the coming months, causing a huge rise in demand for free food.

As the biggest supplier of free food in London, The Felix Project has been operating 12 hours a day, six days a week, distributing surplus food to giant community hubs, including Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in Haringey, as well as to 80 charities and schools across the capital.

The Independent is encouraging readers to help groups that are trying to feed the hungry across the country – find out how you can help here. Follow this link to donate to our campaign in London, in partnership with the Evening Standard.

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