Like most of us I`ve sort of lost track of time but from memory we reached hot meal number 1,000 on about May 1 and with numbers of just over 50 a day on 4 days a week we will hit 2,000 at the beginning of June.
We make no charge and food is donated by local farmers, suppliers and supermarkets before being peeled and chopped by a marvelous team who work in careful isolation before cooking by chef Heidi with assistance from me, though that assistance involves a lot of social isolation at a sink.
Heidi is great at dreaming up hot, tasty meals from whatever we have been donated, my contribution comes in creative ways to match the food to themes, our VE Day contribution came from a stack of tinned corn beef and baked beans, fresh potatoes, onions, carrots and cabbage, from this our WW2 tribute was dreamt up – Corn Beef Hash and was even featured on Saturday Kitchen, in case you missed it ……between 1 hour 8 minutes and 1 hour 8 minutes and 30 seconds on Saturday May 9th.
We take great professional pride in using as much donated food as we can, and in keeping score of how much we spend, or don`t spend, our best week was 208 lunches for £28
A team of volunteer drivers deliver and behind the scenes, Thomas rotas all the volunteers and Mother & Daughter team Alison and Alice plan routes, plan shopping, print lables for the food trays and write names on delivery bags plus 101 other things.
The volunteer drivers arrive 30 minutes early and go through a procedure of sanitising all the handles, steering wheels and gear sticks on their cars before phoning the customers they are delivering to remind them when lunch will be delivered.
The drivers then phone again just as they set off, might sound a bit like over communication but these are elderly, vulnerable members of our community and we can`t just show up unannounced and knock on their doors, I went out on delivery one day and my first customer thought I had come to mend her hoover, I was left standing on the doorstep with her Cottage Pie gazing at a silent Henrietta whilst she went to find a screwdriver.
One of the highlights on delivery duty is visiting Patrick, aka Elvis, and guessing whether he will answer the door in his white `King of Rock’n’Roll jumpsuit, or the more elaborate gold Vegas outfit .
We also have our own diva, `Bertie the Singing Dog` who goes out with volunteer Maria on deliveries, on VE Day his song of choice was `We`ll Meet Again` and he brought a tear to many an eye with video footage of his visit to Grannie Jean to deliver lunch, cake and sing `Happy Birthday` on her 90th.
Back to the kitchen and next weeks menu choices and even Heidi is struggling to come up with ideas for the 84 packets of Paxo Sage & Onion stuffing mix that were delivered yesterday.
Stay Safe ! Keep Smiling!