Volunteers who are on furlough or have lost their jobs because of coronavirus have been delivering healthy and delicious meals to NHS staff across the capital, including local hospitals, to keep them fuelled during long shifts.
Furloughed Foodies, was launched on 30 March and is already preparing 2,100 meals a week and delivering to 15 hospitals, including King’s College, Guy’s and St Thomas’.
Food is cooked in home kitchens and delivered to a designated hospital contact in each location. With each meal capped at £1.50 per portion, dishes to date include Moroccan tagines and super-food salads made from fresh ingredients, without the need for preparation by staff.
When co-founder Floris Ten Nijenhuis’ travel plans were cut short, he started to cook for hospitals by himself before calling on recently furloughed marketer Chloe Hall to help spread the message.
They say they are determined to make the best of the situation and contribute to the battle against Covid-19.
Staff in Covid-19 wards are often unable to visit hospital canteens due to infection control or limited opening hours.
Having spoken to friends who are doctors on the frontline, the pair realised that, while deliveries of takeaways and raw produce are all incredibly helpful, provisions of more “normal” balanced food, which healthcare professionals would be happy to eat day in day out, was limited.
Floris says: “We started this initiative to try to make a difference, and in just one week since coming up with the idea we had done around 20 deliveries, primarily to A&E and ICU staff. It doesn’t really get much more frontline than that.
“We’re lucky to now have around 100 volunteers who have signed up, which will allow us to take on more hospitals and feed more doctors.”
Food is bought in such a way as to minimise exposure to the virus by those cooking. While some are not professional chefs, steps are taken to ensure that the work is carried out both within UK food safety guidelines and current advice on COVID-19.
Furloughed Foodies has already raised nearly £7,000, relying largely on the generosity of friends and family.
The team has now set a target of raising £25,000 in the hope this will allow them to continue to cook and deliver to the frontline staff in coming months.
“The feedback we have received so far from NHS staff has been incredible,” says Chloe Hall, “but what really gets us going on our group chat is the photos of smiling frontline workers.
“So, we really want to call on the public for more donations so that we can support our NHS heroes until the end of this struggle!”