Compass Foster carer, restaurant owner of Momma Cherri’s Soul Food Shack, mother, and author, Charita Jones, (aka Momma Cherri) has certainly kept a busy schedule over the last 40 years.
She was born and raised just outside of Philadelphia, spending her early years in the States, before moving to London in the late 70’s. After living in London for many years, having worked in numerous jobs and starting her family, creating a thriving business, and receiving positive acclaim after featuring on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Momma Cherri has made a name for herself.
After closing her restaurant in Brighton, Momma Cherri’s Soul Food Shack, she returned to fostering, opening her heart and soul to young people in need of a home- and in many cases a second chance. She works with the young people in her care by teaching them basic life skills. Teaching them the art of cooking and the rewards of an education. She also tries to build up each child’s confidence in their inner flair, believing everyone has a talent which needs to shine.
Momma Cherri donating to Brighton’s foodbanks
When the COVID-19 national lockdown and the worldwide pandemic occurred last year, Charita knew she had to do something to help. She began working with her foster child and her adult daughter to see if together they could make a difference. It was a way to occupy their time and give back to their struggling community. Charita began her food bank project by supplying three course meals to 5 families in need at the local church but knew this wouldn’t be enough- so she reached out to a local food bank and began dropping off freshly home cooked meals every Friday each week.
Charita aimed to supply a minimum of 50 main course meat, veg, vegan and children’s meals, together with soups, salads, and a vast assortment of desserts. She and her foster son package it all individually so that if someone just wants a dessert or salad, they can choose it. Each week they deliver over 100 individually packaged items.
To date they have donated over 2000 main courses and 1500 soups, salads, and desserts. They are grateful to the Purple people food bank, in Portslade as each week they give her 2 crates of fresh vegetables and occasionally dry goods, such as rice, couscous and lentils, which she cooks and turns into meals.
In order to complete the meals, she must supply all of the packaging, dairy products, meats, seasonings, labelling, gas, and electricity, refrigeration, and labour. Charita had to pay someone to help her label and package the goods while she continued to cook- it was a big operation! The young man in Charita’s care has really excellent IT skills, so he helped her by building and launching a new online app. You can take a look at it on her website here.
Charita needed support with her social venture, UnLtd. are the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK and every year provide finance and packages of support to hundreds of individuals who are developing social ventures. Charita’s Supervising Social Worker, Dan Strutt, provided a glowing reference for Charita, she was granted the support and Dan also linked the organisation to her 2020 Brighton BLM speeches at the two citywide march for equality rallies to support this too.
We are immensely proud to work with Charita and are inspired by her every day, for the care she provides for her foster son as well as what she provides for her wider community.