Beith Trust are excited to work with North Ayrshire’s Food Train to help them expand into the Garnock Valley. We had Stuart Miller in for lunch, where we cooked at our weekly cooking class. A class where we teach our volunteers how to cook and give them experience working in the kitchen. We also distribute Tesco Fair Share food and are planning to use some of this to cook healthy meals in our training kitchen which can be used for the Meal Makers program. Stuart Miller is the Interim regional manager of the North Ayrshire Food Train – which means he’s looking after the place until the permanent regional manager comes back in April! This is what he had to say about his organisation.
Food Train is an excellent service, and a terrific organisation to work for. We help older people throughout North Ayrshire by delivering a grocery shopping and delivery service. We collect shopping lists from our customers, make up orders in local supermarkets, and deliver the shopping to the customer’s home. The service is carried out by a 40 strong team of compassionate, caring and dedicated volunteers. Much more than just a shopping service our volunteers will always go the extra mile to give our customers the help they need – whether that is putting the shopping away in the fridge, freezer and cupboards; loosening jars or bottle tops; or simply stopping for a blether to see how they are doing. Our customers are very appreciative, here is what one of our customers recently said about the service:
“I really look forward to the volunteers visit. They are excellent, they go the extra mile for us and not just with our food shopping – nothing is ever too much bother for them. Just mention something to them and it is done and dusted! I really appreciate the service, it is a godsend.”
Before I stepped in to provide cover over here in North Ayrshire I was working on another Food Train project called Meal Makers. Meal Makers is another brilliant service that also provides older adults with access to food – in this case wholesome freshly prepared home cooked meals. We connect people who love cooking and would like to share an extra portion of their home cooked food with an older adult who lives locally to them, and who would appreciate a freshly prepared meal and a friendly chat. We started Meal Makers because a lot of our grocery customers expressed that as they had got older, cooking had become more difficult, and they had become reliant on convenient food options such as ready meals. However, many of these customers were still very keen to eat homemade dinners but simply didn’t have the opportunity to do so. When we considered the amount of food that was wasted every year the solution became obvious – meal sharing! Volunteer ‘cooks’ sign up online and once they have passed a food safety quiz and a background check they are paired with an older person in their local area who has joined (by referral or self-referral by phone) Meal Makers as a ‘diner’. Meal Makers runs in several areas in Scotland and thousands of meals have been shared through the project. Like the grocery service there is much more to Meal Makers than meets the eye, it is so much more than just a meal sharing service as so many wonderful friendships have been formed in the course of the project. As well as a meal service it is a way of bringing the community together, and a way to combat social isolation and loneliness. This recent feedback from one of our diners really captures the benefits of joining Meal Makers:
“I am so deeply grateful to Meal Makers and to my volunteer. What a joy to receive delicious fresh meals so thoughtfully prepared. Such an excellent idea! I look forward to lovingly prepared meals, and she is so friendly. She always stays a while for a good blether, and we have no trouble having a laugh together.”
The great news is that while I’m looking after the North Ayrshire Food Train we are also rolling Meal Makers out across North Ayrshire and we look forward to making it a success across the region. Getting great local partners onside like the Beith Community Development Trust allows us to reach areas we otherwise wouldn’t be able to. We are excited to be working with the Beith Trust to extend our organisation into the Garnock Valley.
Anyone who is keen to get involved with Food Train should visit our websites www.thefoodtrain.co.uk / www.mealmakers.org.uk or call the office on 01294 271 025. We are always on the lookout for new volunteers, or if you could benefit from receiving a Food Train service (or know someone who might), then we would love to hear from you.