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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.

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Land army Supporting each other

Food for Friends

It has always been the highlight of our working year – our team summer lunch buffet before breaking up for the holidays. As a team of teachers working for a local authority Minority Ethnic Achievement Service, we are lucky to have colleagues from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds so the food brought to our pot-luck buffets has without fail been delicious and diverse. Over the years, memorable dishes have included Syrian ful, a luridly purple Ube-Macapuno (yam) cake from the Philippines (incidentally one of the nicest cakes I’ve ever tried) and Polish sorrel soup, zupę szczawiową.
Of course, none of that has been possible this year. We decided instead to start a recipe collection and Food for Friends was born. So far, we’ve had recipes from South Africa, Syria, Italy and Germany. The next step is to start asking for contributions from the children and families we work with, who have been telling us about the traditional recipes they’ve been turning to during lockdown. Food has always played a vital role in bringing people together but until life gets back to normal, I hope that people and communities who may have been feeling even more isolated than usual during the pandemic, will be able to feel listened to and connected, through the sharing of recipes.

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Championing local Supporting each other

Shielding treats in Wales

Lockdown in Wales has been a great inconvenience but absolutely essential, but some have had a taste of lockdown plus plus because of having a ‘shielding’ letter from the Welsh Government. I had lymphoma two years ago and even though I was discharged from the Haematology clinic in June, I was still included as a high risk person. For two months we did not go out of our front gate, but in June another letter came with some changes, notably being able to go outside to exercise but still keep to the five miles limit. Thank goodness for Sainsbury’s on line shopping, having priority arranged through local authorities, in our case Denbighshire.
I’m hopeless at cooking but I’m a dab hand with the vegetable peeler and can opener. My wife (and our two grown up children for that matter) is an excellent cook. Without her excellent cooking and baking I would not have survived the last three months, or indeed the last 54 years. One extra treat we had was a Welsh Afternoon Tea through the post from Daffodil Foods in Pwllheli. We also revived a habit from the 1980’s, an aperitivo of Martini Bianco with ice and lemon on a sunny afternoon.
When the five mile limit was lifted in Wales, on Monday 6 July, we went to Llandudno for a walk along the prom from the new lifeboat station to near the pier entrance and then had a drive thru KFC in the Junction!
DIR Llanelwy

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Supporting each other

Simple pleasures

During the lockdown, I did a bit of weekly shopping for my mother and several other households who were all isolating—no big deal, nothing major. And dropping stuff off on a Saturday morning was an excellent opportunity to have a natter and see how everyone was getting on. It reminded me of playing shop as a kid.
Once or twice, though, I added a little something extra from my own kitchen to their baskets, and this batch of roasted garlic in oil was one such gift. I relish it myself in almost everything from scrambled eggs to cream sauces. Within a few days, I started getting texts from my friends telling me how much they’d enjoyed it and how they’d used it in their own cooking. One inexpensive ingredient had brought us closer together, somehow.

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Supporting each other

Alma Road Curry House (Paul Khan)

When we entered lockdown several neighbours (we have a WhatsApp group) set up a service to shop and help any vulnerable persons in our neighbourhood. One neighbour, Paul Khan, asked if anyone would like to try o e of his curry pastes. What followed was weekly deliveries of the most delicious and imaginative tastebud experiences! Paul would announce via WhatsApp what each weekly paste would contain and suggest a dish to combine it with also offering alternatives. He would then deliver the paste to each household all free of charge. We only had to supply some jars each week. Photos of curries adorned our WhatsApp page.
It enhanced our community spirit and led to many neighbourly discussions.
Paul remained humble throughout and his innate knowledge of spices and cooking methods inspired several households to try new recipes and flavours. He clearly has a gift which he generously shared with his neighbours in these worrying times. We all felt uplifted in our connection with curry 😋