Collaboration Combating food poverty Supporting each other

Food Club Chester

I started Food Club Chester with my husband in January. We get no funding and do it all voluntarily from home. We absolutely love it!
We started off by going into the city in the evenings taking hot homemade meals to people sleeping rough. We soon found that other people were providing food- but not hot and on the street. Monday’s weren’t catered for so we stuck to Monday’s. The first time we “Advertised” what we’d be doing by reaching out to grass roots homeless groups to help “spread the word “. We pitched up in a car park just outside the city boundary, (because we knew some rough sleepers are banned from the city) “armed” with hot dinners. No one came.
So, not to be deterred we set out and found people in “their spots”, they were absolutely made-up with the food and we started to get to know people and hear a little about their stories.
We posted on social media and others came forward to join in- some by volunteering to cook a few meals for us to take out and others by cooking and taking food out themselves. We even collaborated with a group of Chester Uni students (doing politics and economics, perhaps aptly) who took homemade hot meals on other evenings that weren’t catered for. We wanted people to take direct action themselves and “run with” the idea of Food Club- A free meal from me to you. No fancy referral process, just free food for anyone who we met on our travels who said they needed it.
People interested in homelessness sourced some ingredients for us and it started to take off. It highlighted a gap in services for some rough sleepers when SWEP was activated as there were always some people who never utilised the provision.
Then covid hit and lockdown changed everything. We had to adapt.
We collaborated with other groups and started to diversify- all food related of course! We now do a combination of things ranging from delivering microwaveable meals made by local restaurants to homeless people in temporary accommodation, cooking hot meals for those who are accommodated with no cooking facilities and running a food bank. Some of the people we met through Food Club told local supermarkets about us and we now get regular donations of food and toiletries from Morrisons. We collaborate with other none-funded community groups to source and share food which we use in a number of ways.
We make food parcels which we take to anyone in need across the city. We also use it for ingredients to cook the meals for the homeless people and we share what we can’t use with other community groups. A happy bi-product has been that we are helping to fight the war in waste by re-purposing food that would otherwise be thrown away.
We calculated that we have provided and delivered food for over 2,600 meals so far.
Running Food Club has honestly kept me going through lockdown, although I wish I lived in a country that didn’t need us!
Doing this has not only given us a good reason to go out, it has enabled us to help people, and most of all has allowed us to meet so many lovely people.

Link to external media