YouTube star KSI joins Independent 'Help the Hungry' campaign to distribute food during coronavirus

British YouTube star KSI has joined The Independent’s campaign to feed the hungry during the coronavirus crisis, hailing it as “amazing”.

KSI, whose real name is Olajide Olatunji, joined The Independent at the Refettorio Felix at St Cuthbert’s Centre in Earl’s Court, London. The Refettorio provides fresh meals to vulnerable people in the local area with food from The Felix Project.

Olatunji spoke to the socially distanced queue of people waiting for their midday meal.

“The Refettorio is the last bastion of food locally,” he was told by Richard, a regular client who is homeless. “Everywhere is shut down.”

The rapper, who is releasing his debut album Dissimulation at the end of this month, joined The Independent’s proprietor Evgeny Lebedev in handing out meals. Each person was given a cup of coffee, a plate of jerk chicken and coleslaw, a cup of rice pudding and a piece of fruit.

“It was awesome to see the smiles on all their faces as we gave them their meals,” he said.

The boxing star then helped Lebedev cut a birthday cake that the Refettorio staff surprised him with for his 40th birthday. Another birthday cake was iced with Damien Hirst’s heart illustration that the artist had created for the campaign.

The cheer was subdued by the fact the demand for food was higher than ever.

“This is the new normal,” Refettorio Felix’s CEO Ali Kingsley told The Independent. “Last time you came [in April], we had about 80 people a day. Now it’s more than 120. We used to cook 300 meals a day for delivery, now it’s more than 500.”

One person waiting in line was Andrew, a street performer who has been homeless in the past.

He wowed Olatunji and Lebedev with a card trick and explained that for him, St Cuthbert’s was not only about food security but also “that little five minutes of human interaction”.

Lebedev said: “The Refettorio Felix is a microcosm of all the good happening in London right now. It represents community and people coming together.”

The Food for London campaign was launched to support The Felix Project in delivering food to frontline charities, vulnerable people and NHS staff in London. It has committed to raising £10m to protect Londoners’ food security for three years after the coronavirus crisis.

KSI reflected on his experience: “It’s amazing to see what The Felix Project are doing for the people and it was a pleasure to be a part of it. I would love to do more in the future.”

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