Furloughed Foodies was launched in late March to help feed frontline staff of the National Health Service in London by providing healthy, homemade meals. Incredibly, the voluntary organisation has delivered more than 6,000 meals in less than a month.
While it currently serves 15 NHS organisations, Fulroughed Foodies says it wants to expand, diversifying its efforts by offering services to homeless shelters and food banks.
“We started this initiative to try to make a difference,” says founder Floris Ten Nijenhuis. “Helping both NHS teams and those in need across London with healthy home cooked food allows us to do this. We are lucky to have had a huge number of volunteers who have signed up, which has allowed us to modify our plans, listen to where our support is needed and take on more to feed more people.”
Furloughed Foodies says the decision to expand was based on firsthand reports of the struggles they were hearing about. The project has already raised £10,000 but the group needs £25,000 to continue its work.
“The feedback we have received so far from NHS staff has been incredible, and what really gets us going on our group chat is the photos of smiling frontline workers, but we want to ensure no one goes hungry through this period if we can help it,” says Chloe Hall, marketing manager who had been recently furloughed. “So, we really want to call on the public for more donations so that we can support both our NHS heroes and our capitals more vulnerable until the end of this struggle.”
Ten Nijenhuis and Hall started Furloughed Foodies in response to the struggle in getting quality food to NHS staffers. They say that while deliveries of takeaways and raw produce were helpful, workers were also receiving a high level of unhealthy snacks and cakes. Those working in COVID-19 wards also were often unable to visit the hospital canteens because of infection control, or that these were limited by opening hours.
Furloughed Foodies is helping to balance that by offering provisions of more ‘normal’ balanced food, which healthcare professionals would be happy to eat day in day out. Furloughed Foodies ‘chefs’ shop for fresh, quality food in their local supermarkets and volunteers then pick them up and deliver healthy lunches and dinners. Some 350 volunteers working across London bring those the meals to workers or the needy, with each meal is capped at £1.50 per portion.
Those who sign up are allocated to one of four areas of London; North, East, West or South. Volunteers are asked to pledge a weekly contribution to either cook, drive or both – matching people who are closest to the hospitals where they live. Furloughed Foodies ensures that all of its volunteers are adhering to social distancing rules, food safety and hygiene.
Those looking to donate to the cause or volunteer can go to www.furloughedfoodieslondon.co.uk