4 ways to help feed NHS workers during the Coronavirus pandemic

One thing we can all agree we’re grateful for during the current Coronavirus outbreak is our National Health Service and its thousands of workers, who are putting their health and wellbeing on the line to look after others.

The last thing we want NHS staff to experience is the added stress of working on an empty stomach.

Here are four initiatives that are working to provide food for those on the frontline, and how you can help, too.

Let us know in the comments if you have different initiatives near you.

4 ways to help feed NHS workers during the Coronavirus pandemic

Why do NHS workers need help?

Testimonies from frontline NHS workers have revealed struggles with accessing food while fighting COVID-19, from expensive and sometimes unhealthy choices available in hospital canteens, which often shut in the evenings, to encountering empty shop shelves and being unable to secure a supermarket delivery slot.

Retailers have created priority hours for key workers, but many people working in the NHS still lack the time to grab food between shifts or are even staying away from their homes currently, meaning they’re unable to cook for themselves. A vending machine is sometimes the last resort.

Four initiatives

Meals for the NHS
Who? A savvy group of tech workers and entrepreneurs (working for the likes of Spotify and Deliveroo) started this rapidly growing fundraiser, Meals for the NHS, which connects local restaurants, many of which have fallen on hard times, with hungry hospital wards.

How? Efforts began on 23 March, with 50 meals from Italian pasta restaurant Berto in north London, which is currently only open for takeaway, being delivered to nearby Whittington Hospital. The following day, deliveries were made to three hospitals. Donations have enabled to project to scale up daily, and the feedback has been great. “Tonight, for the first time being supplied a hot meal, you can’t understand the impact that it has had on the nurses, especially during a gruelling shift,” says a matron from Kings College Hospital.

What can you do to help? The project has so far raised over half a million pounds and 27 hospitals have joined its waiting list, with demand for over 5,000 meals. Visit the website to make a donation, or get in touch if you are a food provider or hospital worker. Money raised goes directly to the restaurants providing the catering services.

Staff at Royal London Hospital sit down to eat, thanks to Meals For The NHS
Staff at Royal London Hospital sit down to eat, thanks to Meals for the NHS

 

"Tonight, for the first time being supplied a hot meal, you can’t understand the impact that it has had on the nurses, especially during a gruelling shift"

Yard Sale NHS Pizza Fund
Who? London-based Yard Sale Pizza, makers of quality stone baked pizzas, are behind this tasty fundraiser, the Yard Sale Pizza Fund. It has five restaurants, all currently closed during the Coronavirus outbreak.

How? A healthy diet is no doubt important, but pizza is never a bad idea, and the fun, fast, made-to-share meal has been putting smiles on health workers’ faces. The Yard Sale team had been delivering pizza to three local hospitals for a few weeks before pledging to donate enough dough to feed 1,000 NHS workers, in partnership with food supplier Salvo 1968. It launched an official NHS fund on 27 March, which has already surpassed £10,000 in donations.

How can you help? By Yard Sale’s calculations, a £10 donation will feed seven NHS workers; £50 will feed 36. Donations can be made through the shop on the Yard Sale website.

Feed NHS
Who? ‘Naturally fast food’ chain Leon has launched campaign FeedNHS with actors Matt Lucas, Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis, aiming to deliver over 5,000 healthy, hot meals a day to critical care staff in London, the region hit worst by the virus.

How? Working initially with two NHS Trusts to deliver food to five hospitals in the capital, the hope is to raise the funds and resources to do the same for other UK hospitals. High street names Wasabi, Tortilla, Pizza Pilgrims, Franco Manca, Tossed and Dishoom are also supporting the campaign, with other restaurants, suppliers and wholesalers with the means encouraged to get involved. Leon has committed to donating any profits to the NHS during the current crisis.

How can you help? Donations are welcomed from the public; the current fundraising total stands at over £600,000.

A member of staff at Barnet Hospital welcomes a food delivery
A member of staff at Barnet Hospital welcomes a food delivery

 

Arabica, Feeding the NHS Fund
Who? With their doors closed for the time being, the team at Middle East-inspired restaurant group Arabica, which has locations in Borough Market and Kings Cross, considered how best to use their talents and supply chain in the meantime. They were inspired to start cooking meals for workers at Guy’s, St Thomas’s and King’s College hospitals, with their Arabica, Feeding the NHS Fund.

How? The team are producing nutritious, plant-based meals from their south London restaurant kitchen that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of dietary requirements. Food is boxed in compostable, carbon-neutral packaging.

Arabica has been transparent with their project plans: funds raised will be spent on supplies, transporting food in Arabica’s refrigerated van, staff and reimbursing volunteers’ travel costs (who are also gifted food provisions) and will not be spent on rent, admin or management costs. The restaurant has also partnered with food waste action group Plan Zheroes, which connects surplus food with charities and community groups, to get food to some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

How can you help? This smaller project is just over halfway to reaching its fundraising target and has not had the publicity of bigger campaigns – this is a great one to share. And if you need an incentive, anyone who donates over £20 will receive a 20 per discount throughout the restaurants’ re-opening period.

Feeling inspired? Discover more ways to help your community during the Coronavirus outbreak.

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