21 May 2020
The NHS Livery Kitchens Initiative has grown since it first began in mid-April. We have recently reached capacity, preparing and delivering 4,000 meals to NHS staff per week.
The hospitals we're supporting are The Royal London, St Bart's and Newham hospitals in east London within the Barts Health NHS Trust. They cover some of the country's worst-hit areas. These hospitals are dealing not only with higher than average cases, but their staff are tired and depleted from falling ill themselves. Over the past month, it has become clear to us that the meals are important for more than just their nutritional value. Enjoying an ice cream can lift spirits and bring a sense of normality, however fleeting and after long, hot hours wrapped in layers of PPE it's a wonderful respite. A meal that is delicious as well as good for you can boost morale as much as immune systems.
In addition to those engaged in the preparation and distribution of meals, the Livery Kitchens Initiative has been made possible on account of the generous donations made by many fellow Livery Companies, especially those without kitchens themselves.
There are altogether too many to list here, but the generosity from ancient to modern Companies is extraordinary.
Since our last update we are pleased to note that the Cooks' Company are sponsoring a meal in addition to financial support, and the Fruiterers' Company are delivering 1,500 pieces of fruit each week. The cabbies of the Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers continue to drive many staff to kitchens in the City so that they can avoid taking public transport. The NHS Livery Kitchens Initiative is truly a team effort which relies on the support of all to work.
The logistics necessary to carry this operation out are not insignificant, from closely working with the Department of Environmental Health to ensure the meals served are to the highest standards (frequently food left by individual well-wishers cannot be consumed due to the risk of food poisoning or allergens) to organising preparation, packaging and distribution teams quickly, efficiently and confidently, it is a huge feat. Given that it has been carried out remotely across organisations adds to that sense of achievement. It shows us what we can do when we put our minds to it. Many of those working on the Initiative have never met one another, but we certainly look forward to being able to do so once we can gather together again.
As we enter into warmer weather, the Livery Kitchens Initiative continues to adapt to feedback from hospitals. Menu changes over the coming weeks will reflect the changing need as salads and a greater proportion of vegetarian meals are requested.
The peak may have now passed, but while lockdown remains there is consideration given to how long the Initiative will continue before winding down and what may happen next. Thanks to the generosity from Livery Companies, individuals and a corporate partner we all can be proud of our work together and focus entirely on meeting the needs of those who are looking after the rest of us.