On 24th October, the Imperial College Food Festival took place on Queen’s Lawn, featuring a diverse range of food stalls including London Smokehouse, Nick and Greek, Wafflestick and Coconut Tree. The fundraiser was part of the international Charity Week campaign held on campus, and raised a whopping sum of over £1,000 for sustainably developing resources for children in need. It was also nominated as one of the best events in London – score!

With the sun rising and the sky a brilliant blue, food vendors from across London set up on Queen’s Lawn on the morning of the 24th. Coordinated by Azmat Habibullah, Anisah Hakim and their team of volunteers from Islamic Society, they were soon ready and waiting for the first hungry students to emerge from their lectures. Despite a slow start (let’s be real, the 9ams probably didn’t have great attendance rates), the stream of customers spiked after midday and did not stop. London Smokehouse sold out almost two hours early, and had to turn away further customers, commenting “This is better than a standard day’s trading at our King’s Cross market, and we’d love to come every month!”. Alongside the steak, Thai and Greek food, Imperial’s very own Bruneian Society ran a stall, giving people a taste of ethnic delicacies. You could also receive a semi-permanent tattoo from a local henna artist.

Charity Week is a worldwide fundraising campaign, coordinated by Islamic Relief, in which over 70 universities participate. The goal is to help not just individuals, but communities, by sustainably developing infrastructure which will have a ripple effect in benefitting a society for generations. By focusing on improving key infrastructure around impoverished areas of the globe, it takes a holistic approach to improving wellbeing. For instance, whilst many charities focus on buying new equipment for hospitals, such as monitors and ECG machines, the Charity Week campaign additionally spends the money on training staff to use the machines and to fix the equipment when needed. The aim is not merely to help children in need, but to lift them out of poverty for good. This year, over £1.3 million was raised during Charity Week around the world. Recent projects include providing psychological support for children in the Central African Republic affected by conflict, and rebuilding seven schools in war-torn Gaza.

The food festival was but one aspect of a wider Imperial Islamic Society campaign for Charity Week. The society raised £39,000 in total, through a wide range of events including the esteemed Annual Charity Dinner, held at a London hotel, a sponsored climb of Mount Snowdonia by over 40 students, and a football tournament. More informally, several students volunteered to sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts and chicken wings around campus to raise more money towards the Charity Week cause.

This was the first time that the Food Festival had successfully run, following three years of attempts resulting in disappointment. However, this year, after mounds of paperwork, the College approved the event in time – resulting in the first time the college has allowed a society to host a large event on Queen’s Lawn. If you are interested in running a similar event in the future, we highly encourage you to contact Azmat for details on how to go about it! Furthermore, anyone interested in taking part in next year’s Charity Week campaign should message the Imperial College Charity Week page on Facebook, and the committee will be in touch with further details. Use some of your spare October time before the deadlines rush in food a good cause!

Overall, the Food Festival was a resounding success as part of a much broader Charity Week, and hopefully the first of many future charity food festivals held at Imperial. Because food + money for a good cause = what more could you want?