As part of our support to the organisations doing great work to help tackle food poverty in the UK we are gaining first hand experience of what is involved to ensure they run smoothly and efficiently.
For many organisations volunteers are just as important as the financial donations they receive and without them they just couldn’t operate so we were more than happy to have our first shift helping out The Felix Project in their Poplar kitchen recently.
Having completed the easy introductions and training online we turned up full of enthusiasm but completely in the dark as to what we might be doing. A warm and friendly welcome from Josh put us immediately at ease plus the fact that anyone you walked past offered a cheery ‘Hello’, which made for a really great atmosphere.
Within the kitchen there were two main areas to work in- food prep and food packing – and we were assigned to the former. We were greeted by a gang of friendly Sainsbury’s employees , there on a corporate day from the company. Sainers are very involved with the Felix Project and had sent some willing helpers down to help out for the morning. Mountains of green beans was the order of the day and we happily set about chopping away whilst listening to the tunes of a tech-savvy chap who’d realised he could bluetooth his playlist to the speakers. With lunch at around 1.30 it was a really short first session and we were soon heading off to the canteen. A fabulous lunch was provided and also offered a good chance to catch up with other volunteers and employees all of whom seemed delighted to be there.
Of course it isn’t all voluntary and there are several full time employees including the chefs in the kitchen. They appeared to have it all under control and it was certainly not the mad noisy atmosphere you normally associate with such places, and the language was certainly not Ramsayesqe. The obligatory ‘yes chef’ was repeatedly heard but the whole operation was very calm and the chefs very chilled and friendly. Ovens with trays of slow cooked pork, huge pots of stew being stirred plus the, amazingly prepped!, veg on the boil. The smells were fabulous.
Our gentle intro of bean chopping was soon replaced on our return with trays and trays of butternut squash that needed de-skinning, de-seeding and then chopping into cubes. Not so cocky now are we boys? Undaunted the three of us soon had a routine going taking on a role each (i lucked out and had the chopping role) and slowly but surely the piles of trays began to reduce. A peak in the next room revealed a well organised troupe of food packers, filling up containers of individual meals for distribution to grateful recipients. Hopefully a role we can experience next time. An afternoon of chatting and chopping soon flew by as we were joined by a few other helpers and before we knew it we had dealt with the last squash and was almost time for home.
All the trays of beans and squashes were all stacked up and ready to be turned into some healthy, tasty meals by the talented chefs. After a clean down of the surfaces and a cheery farewell to the kitchen staff it was time to remove hair nets and crocs, change back into our normal clobber and head home. A cracking time was had and we are looking forward to next time and maybe seeing what life on the road is like when these great meals and food supplies get distributed.
We highly reccommend signing up for a shift in the Felix kitchen. It is great to be able to contribute and, of course, you leave satisfied that you have done a little bit to help provide food for those in need. Such a friendly environment and if you do have a few hours spare they would be incredibly grateful of your time. Find out more below about how you can help out.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THEIR WORK HERE
The Felix Project
LOOK OUT FOR MORE FELIX EXPERIENCES COMING SOON