This post is written by Roisin Kay, Hub Leader at FoodCycle Portsmouth and Recipe Development Chef (what a great title!) at Kenwood, one of FoodCycle’s charity partners. Last week, an enthusiastic team from Kenwood took part in a ‘kitchen takeover’ at Portsmouth Hub. Here’s how it all began….
The decision process
Last autumn, Kenwood set up the ‘Giving Something Back’ project. As part of the new initiative it was decided that Kenwood employees from now on would vote for a charity of the year. So the nomination process for the Charity of the Year 2016 started and the staff put forward the charities that they felt aligned with Kenwood’s brand values.
It was tough. Only three charities were short-listed and they all were equally deserved causes. It was then finally announced that the chosen charity was FoodCycle. When Mary, the CEO of the charity came to visit in January she explained: “We are thrilled to be your Charity of the Year”. She went on to say: “The whole team at FoodCycle is really proud that you have selected us and are really looking forward to a fun year ahead.”
Since then, the ‘Giving Something Back’ team have worked studiously to organise a calendar of events from Pancake Flipping Competitions to running training sessions for a team of wonderful staff who will be taking part in the Great South Run in October.
Getting stuck in
This week, though the ‘Giving Something Back’ team (plus a few extras) swapped their business wardrobes for hair nets and aprons at FoodCycle Portsmouth. Leaving straight from work, the eight volunteers arrived at the John Pounds Centre to meet with Sally Ann and Rob two of Portsmouth’s Hub Leaders.
Sally Ann showed the kitchen team the ropes and Rob guided those who were eager to try on their waiting shoes or trainers. Throughout the night, roles were swapped and everyone got stuck in where and when they were needed. Sally Ann straightaway said: “What a lovely bunch” the volunteers were.
Ready Steady Cook!
The evening started with the sorting out of surplus food that had been donated from local supermarkets and shops. From a variety of ingredients, including root vegetables and coconut milk Sally Ann and the team had to come up with a three course meal. The result was an admirable line up:
The starter: Spiced carrot soup
The main: Root vegetable and bean bake
The dessert: Stewed fruit with oat crumble topping and coconut custard
Jess from the Global Trade Marketing Team summed up: “It really opens your eyes to what you can do.”
To get the venue ready for the guests in just under two hours, the team quickly got to work peeling, chopping and setting up the tables. As Neal the sponsor of the ‘Giving Something Back‘ project highlighted: “It was morale boosting. There was a great deal of team spirit and everyone wanted to help.”
Creating meals out of surplus food to reduce food waste and food poverty are just two of FoodCycle’s main objectives; the other, and maybe most importantly, building communities. So it was brilliant to see, as serving time quickly approached that the team kept their spirits high and happily introduced themselves to the regulars as well as the new faces that came through the doors. One of the company’s Product Managers, Gareth, said: “I am more than happy meeting with guests.” Helping Rob with the signing in as the guests arrived, he later joked: “Most were regulars who knew what they were doing much more than I did!”
Julian,the ‘Giving Something Back’ team’s own photographer and one of Kenwood’s Electronic Engineers, even reconnected with an old family friend who it turned out lives opposite the John Pound’s Centre. He explained that he did not recognise him at first and went on to say: “I was pleased to see him as he attended my mum’s funeral.” This is a brilliant example of how FoodCycle brings people together and Julian also mentioned that he got the feeling that some guests were there for the company more than the food.
The crew kept cheerful as the night went on through the serving of seconds to the dreaded clean up. The team spirit was truly tested whilst clearing up after forty guests. In the end though, the team may have broken a sweat but the effort did not break their smiles.
Proof of this came from the reactions of each of the volunteers when asked if they would do it again and if they would recommend volunteering, everyone said yes! So, watch this space as the Kenwood FoodCycle friendship blooms.
For more information on the work FoodCycle do around the country take a look here or go straight to the Portsmouth Hub page.