An eight-year-old schoolgirl has cooked 500 meatballs, 30 tins of tomatoes and 15kg of pasta in one day to donate 100 hot meals to her local community of Deptford, Lewisham.
Leila Miah, a Blackheath High School pupil, was inspired by Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign and wanted to play her part in helping feed the community during lockdown.
She chose to cook her favourite meal of meatballs and rigatoni after receiving an Italian recipe book for Christmas.
Leila has also raised over £1000 for Evelyn Community Store in Deptford – where she donated the meals – more than doubling her original fundraising target.
Evelyn Community Store is run by local residents who provide food to families in the area in collaboration with food redistribution charity Fareshare.
FareShare collects good quality surplus food from supermarkets and redistributes it to the Community Store. Residents on low incomes pay a small membership fee and in return are provided with fresh groceries and toiletries.
Leila awoke at 5AM and cooked for eight hours to complete the meals.
Leila Miah said: “I have been following the efforts of Marcus Rashford and I know he visited local charities who give out food to children and their families. I am lucky as I have nice food to eat but I know there are some children who do not always have hot food during lockdown so I wanted to share my cooking with them.
“The best part of the project was delivering the meatballs to the community store. I am looking forward to going back to help give out food bags when it’s safe.”
Sarah Skevington, Head of Juniors at Blackheath High School said: “Blackheath High is extremely proud of Leila and her amazing achievements – not only did she cook for a whole day, but she also raised a fantastic sum of money to help her local community in the process.
“Throughout the pandemic we have been humbled by the efforts our pupils have made to support their communities, the NHS and our key workers. They’ve captured the Blackheath High spirit, taking initiative and going above and beyond to help others.”
Dawn Atkinson Evelyn Community Store volunteer and Mayoress of Lewisham said: “When we at Evelyn Community Store were first approached by Lelia and her mum about making something for our members, we thought it might be cookies or cakes.
“When we realised Lelia was planning to make a meatball meal, we were totally taken back. Then we also found out that Lelia had also designed and set up a JustGiving page for the Store, we were totally amazed. For a young person to be so committed to wanting to help her local community is inspirational.”