Using food donations from several companies and organisations including FareShare Midlands, The Active Well-being Society and Incredible Surplus, the kitchen have been able to cook and distribute around 600 meals a week, to help support vulnerable people across the Birmingham area.
Thomas, is one of the main cooks at Change Kitchen and spends some of his time cooking with a handful of people living in an all-male hostel. The hostel provides shelter and opportunities for vulnerable men, such as learning new cooking skills with Thomas, as he goes in weekly to cook meals with and for them. The hostel receives around 60 meals a week. Thomas says “Most of the people staying at the hostel are mainly just eating takeaways as they’re cheap or just not eating much at all. The only substantial meal they’re likely to be eating is the 1 meal a week I cook for them, with help from some of the guys themselves. Knowing that this is the only real meal they’ll receive, we really try to make it as healthy and nutritious as possible, by adding lots of veg”.
In addition to the hostel, Change Kitchen supply weekly hot meals to groups of rough sleepers, a vulnerable women groups as well as a large chunk of the meals prepared each week going back to Incredible Surplus to be handed out to those in need.
Thomas shares his stand-out meals and their relationship with FareShare, “I decided to make a vegetarian lasagne one night with the guys form the hostel. Most of them are not vegetarian and they were all very surprised when I told them that there had been no meat in the dish. Some of them even said that they couldn’t taste the difference!”. “For certain groups we require vegan food, and the team at FareShare have been brilliant at picking and sending us vegan items. We received some vegan chicken strips and made a great vegan chicken stir fry which went down really well within the group. It’s really great to be able to use products that others may have not tried before, and that’s one of the big pros in receiving FareShare food”.
Thomas mentions in the early days, we were helping families who had initially not wanted to make any fuss or ask for help, but their neighbours or friends realised that they were suffering. The Active Well-being Society created a form to be filled out by individuals and families in need, or by those who would like to refer a family or individual in need. So many of these neighbours and friends, ended up referring families and individuals who needed support but did not feel entirely comfortable asking. The feedback we’ve received has all been very touching, lots of messages of gratitude and thanks.