OPEN KITCHENS: ON A MISSION TO FEED THOSE IN NEED
Open Kitchens: On a mission to feed those in need by bringing together restaurants and their communities whilst helping tackle food waste. Following recent national success, ten children will be doing a sponsored walk of 10,000 steps to help raise money for 10,000 children.
In early April, Open Kitchens was launched to provide free, nutritious meals for those in need.
In the wake of the lockdown, this not-for-profit initiative has been helping UK restaurants to repurpose their kitchens – using furloughed staff volunteering their time, empty facilities and surplus food to cook for vulnerable groups in their local communities.
There are now 45 restaurants across the country that are cooking and fundraising with Open Kitchens. These include fine dining establishments, (such as Michelin star Alchemilla and Frog by Adam Handling) all the way through to local artisan bakeries and coffee shops.
More than £230,000 has been raised nationally and more than 144,000 free meals have been produced. The initiative has also recently partnered with Fare Share, a national network that redistributes surplus food to charitable causes, meaning that restaurants are not only feeding those in need, but tackling food waste.
Hilton Hotels has also joined Open Kitchens in their fight. The global hotel company has offered its freezers as a storage point between when the meals are produced, and when they are distributed to their beneficiaries plus donating meals. This huge development offers a significant expansion for Open Kitchens, allowing Hilton Hotels to become a nationwide hub that helps them to distribute their meals more widely while also using surplus food to produce meals.
The next initiative is to feed 10,000 children across Nottinghamshire, these meals will cost just £1.50 each and the kids themselves are stepping up to help raise money. 10 kids will be taking 10,000 steps to feed 10,000 children. Celebrities such as Gary Lineker, Caitriona Balfe, Sophie Skelton and Penny Lancaster have all pledged their support for the Open Kitchens initiative too.
George Ktori runs Yamas, a popular Greek restaurant in Nottingham city centre that was the first to join Open Kitchens.
“When Open Kitchens came to me, I was immediately on board. It’s important to help in these times and feed those who need it most. We’ve got the equipment and the talented chefs, to volunteer their time and cook fresh meals for those who don’t have access to them.”
When the pandemic began, co-founders Alex Grundy and Adam Roberts re-focused their team’s work-from-home agenda and galvanised as many business contacts as possible to spring Open Kitchens into life.
Adam Roberts says “To get the idea off the ground as quickly as possible, we got the word out to as many organisations as we could think of in order to pool resources and the response from all angles so far has been phenomenal. Now we are putting everything we have into raising the funds required to feed those in need.”
Alex Grundy says “We still have so much to do! Now, we’re on the lookout for more local restaurants to join this incredible community effort, opening up their kitchen space to prepare nutritious meals and help us reach the thousands of people who still desperately need our support. The effort the children are going to take 10,000 steps is very humbling, please dig deep and donate what you can.”
Whilst delivering the meals, the Open Kitchens volunteers have seen first-hand how desperately this support is needed across communities.
“Liam aged 16 comes from a family of 9. The family struggle day-to-day but right now, things are worse. They have no cooker so we took some meals to the family and explained how the Open Kitchen worked, and that all the food was being cooked by restaurants. Liam said he has never eaten at a restaurant or a pub before. He wanted you all to know your food is amazing and that coronavirus isn’t all that bad as he’s now tasted restaurant food. He said it’s made him realise he wants to work hard in life so he can eat at a restaurant in person.”
Please also see below a number of direct quotes from those who have benefited from Open Kitchens.
“Thank you for your kindness and generosity. The chilli really put a smile on our faces which could be seen even through our masks . Thank you” – Ali Rhodes, Midwife at NHS Queens Medical Centre
“We’d like to thank you for your generosity and kindness during this very difficult time. You took the trouble to deliver freshly prepared hot food ready to eat for all the staff. It was greatly appreciated and enjoyed.” – Mamta Juneja, Meadow House Hospice, Southall.
“Rebuilding your life after homelessness is a life challenge in itself, but when money is tight and aren’t able to leave your home, the reassurance of knowing that people care enough to ensure you won’t go hungry is indescribably important for a person’s morale, health and sense of wellbeing.” – Nottinghamshire YMCA.
“The safety of our residents is our absolute top priority, and we are reassured to know these are reputable restaurants with strict health and safety checks in place to reduce risks and maximise support for our community’s most vulnerable citizens. If you are a local restaurant or an individual who can sponsor a meal – you can help this scheme to support even more local people. We can get through this pandemic if we pull together.” said Nick Clements, Housing Operations Manager at Nottinghamshire YMCA.
Donate as an individual or organisation via the initiative’s central Just Giving page. Just £1.85 will provide a hearty adult meal for someone who needs it and £1.50 will support a children’s meal. You can find out more at openkitchens.co.uk.