When local Bookham company, Lavender Catering, experienced a severe reduction in the number of functions they were catering for during the COVID-19 lock down, owner Melanie Williams turned her attention to providing a much needed free meals service to NHS staff at eight local hospitals. The NHS paid for supplies, and Melanie’s team prepared the meals and local volunteers delivered the meals to the hospitals. As a little “thank you” to the NHS staff she also included some sweet treats for which she recruited 80 home bakers in Bookham, Fetcham and East Horsley to produce delicious baked goods and sweets. This service continued until June this year when things started to get back to normal in the NHS.
Through doing this work Melanie has subsequently teamed up with Mid Surrey Community Fridges as she has identified that there is a real need to feed people who are in a position where either due to financial or medical constraints as a result of COVID-19 they are unable to provide meals for themselves and their families.
The Community Fridges service collects unwanted stock from supermarkets and food distributors and then distributes them to people in need. By teaming up with Melanie they have been able to turn the surplus food in to ready meals that can be heated in a microwave or an oven. In Bookham, Community Fridges is using the old Youth Centre on the Lower Road as a distribution hub. They are currently distributing 650 bags to 450 referrals in the area.
On Monday 7th September their first production run was completed and 200 meals were produced by Melanie and her team and are being distributed by Clare Davies (CEO) and Michelle Carvell (FD) of Mid Surrey Community Fridges. All the packaging for the meals is bio-degradable and there are meat and vegetarian options. The first run was spaghetti bolognese and looked delicious!
The Bookhams Residents’ Association has helped this initiative by facilitating an Emergency Funding Grant from Mole Valley District Council. The funds will be going towards additional catering equipment to expand the service.
And if you are interested in the bakes the volunteers prepared, Melanie has produced a book of the recipes used called “Baking for the NHS” and is available from Wishing Well in Bookham High Street. The book is £10.00 and all proceeds are going the neonatal unit at the Royal Surrey Hospital as part of the ” Closer to Care” fund.
A great community effort by Melanie and Clare and their respective teams and volunteers. You are all to be congratulated on your commitment to getting this initiative off the ground and providing nutritious meals to very grateful people.
You can read more on Melanie’s Outreach Connect project and Mid Surrey Community Fridges using the links below.