Meet the team at FoodCycle Liverpool cooking up a treat on Christmas Day for those who need it - The Guide Liverpool

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Meet the team at FoodCycle Liverpool cooking up a treat on Christmas Day for those who need it

21/12/2019

FoodCycle Liverpool is cooking up a Christmas meal for free using food that would otherwise go to waste


No-one wants to think of anyone going hungry, especially on Christmas Day.

But kind-hearted volunteers in the city are giving up part of their own Christmas to cook a festive feast for people who would otherwise go without.

FoodCycle Liverpool is turning surplus food into a cracking Christmas community meal for free on December 25.

“And we would love to share some festive cheer with anyone who is hungry or would simply like some friendly company while they tuck into a three-course dinner in Toxteth,” says Deb James.

FoodCycle Liverpool is one of 41 projects around the country, and part of the national charity which takes surplus food from supermarkets and local independent retailers which would otherwise go to waste.

In Ready, Steady, Cook style, helpers turn whatever is given into tasty and nutritious three-course meals served to anyone in need of food – and company – using community kitchens to bring positive benefit and joy to the lives of those experiencing food poverty or social isolation in the local area.

The Liverpool team receives supplies of fruit and vegetables, bread and other items that can’t be sold from Tesco Park Road in Toxteth (where there’s also a donation trolley where shoppers can leave store cupboard items to be included in the meals) And it also gets surplus food from independent local retailers Windmill Wholefoods and Refill on Aigburth Road, and Purple Carrot on Smithdown Road.

“We get all sorts of people coming in to share our meals each week. A lot of people are on benefits and struggle to afford the basics to prepare decent meals for themselves. Some have gas and electricity where they live but might not always use it because it’s too expensive; some people are homeless and sleeping on the streets or in tents, others are in hostels. Some people are asylum seekers, others come simply for the company, and the chance to chat to the volunteers and the other guests, and enjoy being part of their local community.

“They might not have spoken to another person all day,” adds Deb.

A volunteer and one of five project leaders at FoodCycle Liverpool, Deb has been working with the charity for three years and will be helping to lead the volunteers cooking on Christmas Day, with fellow project leader Ryan Stubbs.

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The Liverpool team receives supplies of fruit and vegetables, bread and other items that can’t be sold from Tesco Park Road in Toxteth (where there’s also a donation trolley where shoppers can leave store cupboard items to be included in the meals) And it also gets surplus food from independent local retailers Windmill Wholefoods and Refill on Aigburth Road, and Purple Carrot on Smithdown Road.

“We get all sorts of people coming in to share our meals each week. A lot of people are on benefits and struggle to afford the basics to prepare decent meals for themselves. Some have gas and electricity where they live but might not always use it because it’s too expensive; some people are homeless and sleeping on the streets or in tents, others are in hostels. Some people are asylum seekers, others come simply for the company, and the chance to chat to the volunteers and the other guests, and enjoy being part of their local community.

“They might not have spoken to another person all day,” adds Deb.

A volunteer and one of five project leaders at FoodCycle Liverpool, Deb has been working with the charity for three years and will be helping to lead the volunteers cooking on Christmas Day, with fellow project leader Ryan Stubbs.

The Liverpool group normally meets every Wednesday evening, running out of Cleo’s café at St Cleopas Church on the corner of Mill Street Beresford Road, in Dingle, Toxteth.

It opened its doors in 2014 and has been cooking up a storm every Wednesday evening since.

In 2019 alone the volunteer team has served 1,200 guests and given out over 600 takeaway meals.

A pool of around 30 regular volunteers have put in more than 1,500 volunteer hours this year.

And they have saved more than 1,700kg of surplus food that would have been wasted!

A recent survey for the Liverpool project found 100% of guests often or sometimes worry their food will run out because they don’t have enough money to buy more. All of them said they sometimes skip a meal and over half said they often skip a meal.

Nearly all said they often felt lonely.

Volunteers come from all walks of life and ages, including local pensioners, professionals who want to give something back, and students studying in the city, and the charity is always keen for new volunteers to sign up.

“FoodCycle is based upon the simple idea that waste and poverty should not co-exist and that something powerful can be achieved by cooking and eating together.

“Every day in the UK there are people going hungry while perfectly good food is being thrown away, and every day those people who are lonely or hungry could come together to form communities and make new friends.

“All the meals are vegetarian so it means more people can eat them, and we cook anything from homemade lentil burgers, to curries, shepherd’s pie, roasted veg with pasta, to chip barms. It’s a great creative challenge for our cooks to come up with ideas and work out how to best use the ingredients in the time we have to cook from 5pm until 7pm. There is always a starter, usually soup with bread, a main meal with sides of different vegetables, and a dessert, often a fruit crumble or cake but we have been known to do Canadian style fruit pancakes and even banana fritters – and if there is food left over at the end of the night we hand out takeaways too.”

One guest at FoodCycle Liverpool said recently: “Knowing that there was somewhere here that I could come on a Wednesday evening, have a hot meal, have a hot drink and someone to talk to, it was like a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Deb adds: “FoodCycle is a fantastic thing to be involved with, it makes such a positive difference to our local community, in these times when increasingly people are relying on foodbanks and projects like ours just to get through the week.

“Our guests tell us every week what a difference coming along makes to their lives and it is a fantastic experience as a volunteer to know you are being of genuine help.

“And we couldn’t make Christmas Day any different. It’s a time when the loneliness is magnified because of the occasion and we would hate to think of people feeling isolated, or being on their own on December 25, especially when we can welcome them here.”

Anyone who may not have the chance to enjoy a Christmas lunch with friends or family is invited to attend the free meal on Christmas Day. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be available from 5.30pm and the meal will be served at 7pm in St Cleopas Church, 400 Mill Street, Toxteth, L8 4RF.

FoodCycle Liverpool is keen to hear from anyone who would like to volunteer, or from grocery suppliers who would like to donate any items.

To get involved, visit www.foodcycle.org.uk or you can find @FoodcycleLiverpool on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Get all of the latest news for Liverpool and beyond here.

Got a story you would like to share with us? Email us at info@theguideliverpool.com and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for regular updates for Liverpool.

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