“There’s a real buzz when FareShare’s van arrives. It means exciting things for our week ahead!”
Thursday mornings are eagerly anticipated in one corner of Cheltenham. Dozens of guests crowd in to the front reception room at Open Door waiting for delicious aromas to waft from the kitchen. Outside, more keenly watch for the arrival of the weekly van delivery. “Here they are.” Michael shouts and everyone rises to form a chain handing in the trays of food from the back of FareShare South West’s van. “There’s pies. And a ton of veg. Brilliant!” At the door stands Rosie Radford, the human dynamo who acts as Chef, daily organiser, and an ever-supportive friend to the men and women, many of them homeless, to whom the centre is a life line.
“I have fun inventing a week’s menus from an entirely random selection of stuff: sometimes it’s rib eye steak and asparagus, sometimes jellied eels and crispy cakes! I believe in giving everyone the best meal they can have within our means, and I love surprising our guests with a steak dinner, or salmon en croute.”
Open Door receives no grant funding at all and relies on donations from supporters. So that means without FareShare South West, the two-course daily lunch Rosie produces would be much more limited. And with fresh meats, fruit and vegetables at the core of each delivery, she can provide balanced meals as well as food parcels and more. “It’s really important to get vital vitamins and minerals into our guests that they rarely get elsewhere. And I love the pot luck nature of the deliveries. If I was planning menus in the traditional way it might be easy to be repetitive. One guest told me the other day that someone asked him, “how often does Rosie rotate her menus?” He said, “er, she doesn’t!”. That’s down to fun FareShare deliveries!”
Ask any of the guests who use Open Door and they’ll tell you just how important their visits are.
“When I was homeless, Open Door was everything to me: a safe place to be, company, empathy and, most importantly, Rosie’s wonderful cookery! As Den said to me, “We’re a social club with food,” but more than that: being here goes beyond words; it’s being part of something special.”
And what would Rosie say to others thinking about using FareShare?
“I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t! You receive the amount of food that you need and want; you can specify which foods suit your organisation; the food is fresh, exciting, varied and plentiful and it is delivered to your door by nice people and backed up by an organisation who stay in touch and listen!”
It is a pleasure to work with charities like Cheltenham Open Door, where FareShare food goes to the best possible use. If you are a charity, school or community group who could use our food, please get in touch to find out more or take a look at our Get Food pages for more information.