Food not Bombs is a group of volunteers which feeds the homeless by cooking quality within-date food, which would have otherwise been thrown away by businesses. Reporter KELLY SMALE spent the evening as a volunteer at a hostel in New Cross.

IN FEBRUARY 22-year-old Martin Bowman and his friends set up the organisation Food Not Bombs to help feed the area's homeless. But now, thanks to a huge demand, he is urgently appealing for more volunteers./p>

“More volunteers mean we can do more deliveries", he explained.

“We always need drivers and what would be incredible is if we can get someone to come on a regular basis and help me organise it.”

The volunteers help out at two hostels: St Mungo's in Pagnell Street, New Cross, on a Monday and Broadway Manor Place in Kennington on Saturdays.

I joined them to watch the process from start to finish.

News Shopper: Martin Bowman, Kelly Smale collect food from Jalal Abdulla, Omar Kareem 4.45pm:

We visit shops in New Cross to ask them for any with-in date food, which they are intending to throw away at the end of the day.

Eight shops donate fruit and veg but four shops turn us away without checking.

We cannot accept meat for health and safety reasons.

A driver collects the regular supplies from Kelsey’s Farm Shop in Water Lane, North Cray, Ruxley Farm Shop in Maidstone Road, Sidcup, and Swanley Bakery (Sidcup and Swanley branch).

News Shopper: 2)Chris Flynn, Martin Bowman, Kelly Smale We take the products back to the shelter, which includes bananas, plantain, peppers, potatoes, spring onions, apples and bread.


There are five of us who make up tonight’s volunteers. We start to prepare the meals for the residents who are staying at the hostel.

The menu includes: Soup (carrots, onions, potatoes, cabbage and garlic), salad, potatoes with paprika, lecso (tomatoes, onion, peppers, oil and paprika), roasted aubergine, fried plantain, pasta in tomato sauce, fruit salad, banana cake, apple and cherry pie.

News Shopper: Kelly Smale and Amelie Bochm serve the food 8.45pm:

Running behind schedule, we finally open the serving hatch for the twenty people who have arrived for their dinner at the hostel.

Any meals left over are covered up and left for the residents to re-heat the following day.


Pots, pans and utensils are washed up, the rubbish is taken out, the floor is mopped, and sides are cleaned down so the kitchen is left spotless for the cooks the next day.

News Shopper: Lev Borbely, Amelie Bochm, Kristina Sarkisova, Martin Bowman, Kelly Smale 10pm:

The team heads home.

For more information about Food Not Bombs or to volunteer, email, call 07816088210 or visit

How Food Not Bombs helps one homeless man survive

Transylvanian Lev Borbely came to the UK in 1999 to study English at Goldsmiths University after being forced to leave his own country for political reasons.

He is a qualified teacher and an engineer but in 2007 he had no job and was not receiving any benefits.

Since then he has been homeless.

The 40-year-old said: “I’m temporarily staying with a friend but it’s only meant to be for a few days. I was staying in a squat but got moved on.

“Sometimes I sleep on the street but I prefer bushes because it’s safer.”

Mr Borbely has been cooking for Food Not Bombs since October after seeing a poster appealing for volunteers.

He said: “The homeless people we feed have accommodation but I have nothing.

“Food Not Bombs is not just a great idea, it helps me to survive. I have to say a big thank you to them.”

He added: “I work for them so I will have food to eat. If they weren’t here I don’t no what I would do.”