On Saturday March 14th 2020 we put a post out on Facebook with an idea…..
We wanted to get nutritious, cooked meals to our most vulnerable residents in Preston, to support them during these very difficult times. The response was phenomenal with over 30 volunteers coming forward within 24 hours offering to help their community.
We knew we had to act quickly, we didn’t want to wait for the problem to escalate, we had to act so we could ensure Preston residents were fed and nourished, preventing hunger and the fear of going hungry. Together we knew we could make a massive difference to the day to day lives of people who are self isolating in their own homes, with little contact with the outside world.
Monday 16th March we hosted a meeting with many local businesses and organisations, to put forward our idea; The Larder wants to work with local organisations, community groups, and business to put together plans to mobilise and support our community. We realised this work was absolutely vital; together we needed to ensure there were no gaps – Enhancing and working with local communities. The Larder knew we needed strong partnerships and not top down – we are all in this together!
Our Crowdfunder page was set up and went live just 2 days later on Wednesday 18th March. Our cooked meal provision started just 7 days after our initial meeting on Monday 23rd March with over 300 meals cooked, nutritious meals going out in the first week to the homeless, older people and vulnerable residents, working initially with the Foxton Centre and Age Concern. This grew over the next two weeks to include a team of volunteer drivers delivering to the door of people referred through to us who needed a nutritious, cooked meal. With the help of the team at DriverNet we could now plan our deliveries and donation collections efficiently by using the latest technology to calculate routes, time and fuel costs. This ensured we were working to our best and eliminated overlap.
Offers of food donations came in from across the Preston area, with the whole community coming together and working in partnership to support Cooking For Our Community.
We now work with many local businesses and organisations who are providing The Larder with food donations, as well as fridge & freezer space, extra dishes, vans, volunteers, and more. Take a look at our partners page, where we thank everyone we are working with.
On March 31st we had another idea! We knew with the schools being closed, local families may be struggling to find the additional cost of food and due to the lockdown, we could not deliver our planned holiday hunger programme.
In just 7 days The Larder developed the Kids in the Kitchen at Easter, home cookery classes for local children; working in close partnership with Community Gateway Housing Association we put together an idea which involved delivering ingredients kits to 36 local families, as well as producing recipe cards and videos.
Our Kids In The Kitchen started on Monday 6th April 2020
36 families, 10 days of ingredients, videos, cookery & fun! Food was cooked and shared, fussy eaters have been fed, new skills learnt & families have had fun together! – all the videos were made by volunteers, all the ingredients were delivered by the Larder volunteers and Community Gateway Housing.
The feedback has been amazing – so many families joined in the fun, including many from across the country who did not receive the ingredients bags, they wanted to take part and cook with their children.
“A massive thanks to all involved in the larder kitchen . My kids have both really enjoyed cooking each day . They have learned new skills and tried everything they cooked. It really has given them a focus this last 2 weeks during lockdown x thank you from the heart x“
“ I want to say a massive thank u the kids have enjoyed every second of this cooking they have tried different foods. It was a great opportunity and glad we took part. X“
Following the success of this programme The Larder now have plans to deliver Kids In The Kitchen during the summer to 120 local families who are eligible for free school meals.
Our Crowdfunder closed Monday 20th April with a massive £8340 raised by 176 amazing supporters – thank you! We have also received much needed grant funding including funding through the National Emergencies Trust #LancsCOVIDFund
To date we have provided over 2,000 nutritious meals to our local community,We are working with the Foxton Centre, Age Concern, Community Gateway Housing Association and Social Services to support our most vulnerable with cooked nutritious meals at this time.
This isn’t the end of the story – it’s the beginning….
We are doing more! It’s not just about responding to the emergency, and providing the education, we are now working on a strategy to support our local economy and ensure people in Preston have access to affordable fresh, local ingredients….
Cooking for Our Community
Kids In the Kitchen, Food Champions and a range of both accredited and non-accredited courses
Food hub coming soon, including online shop through the Open Food Network