The Independent has a proud history of campaigning on social causes. The coronavirus pandemic is a challenge equal to our worst past crises. It is a test of our infrastructure, institutions and the cohesiveness of society.

Over the past few weeks I have met volunteers, suppliers and recipients of our Help The Hungry appeal. I have seen pensioners living alone, without food and terrified. I have seen homeless people unable to access the services on which they depend. I have heard of families who have gone days without a meal.

We believe we have passed the peak of Covid-19 infections, but this is only the beginning of the hunger epidemic.

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The aftershock of the crisis will lead to higher unemployment and more strain on our social services. The Food Foundation estimates that more than eight million face food insecurity. Many across London and around the UK will face real hardship. It is for this reason that our campaign, which has raised £3m so far, remains essential.

I am therefore writing to let you know that we must keep going. We, alongside the Evening Standard, intend to build on our success and work to ensure lasting food security for hundreds of thousands of people.

To do this we are committing our campaign to raise a war chest of £10m to tackle food poverty across London – which has been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic – for three years.

The money raised will allow our partner The Felix Project to continue to redistribute the equivalent of 100,000 meals a day to frontline charities, community hubs, schools and NHS workers right across London. We will also open a mega community kitchen to uphold our pledge to support the homeless.

It is a stunningly efficient operation. With £10m, The Felix Project can source and distribute at least £100m worth of food, which otherwise might have gone to waste. Amid the huge sadness of this crisis, we must not forget the stories of generosity and comradeship around the country.

I hope you, the readers, will continue to take part in this story too.

Evgeny Lebedev is a shareholder of The Independent and Evening Standard

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