More than £250,000 raised in seven days to help feed NHS staff
29 March 2020, 20:08 | Updated: 29 March 2020, 20:16
Volunteers have raised more than £250,000 in seven days for NHS workers, which will provide them with hot meals during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meals for the NHS has donated 4,000 meals to a number of London's hospitals during the Covid-19 outbreak and they hope to provide tens of thousands more in the coming weeks.
"It's hard for anyone to operate on an empty stomach let alone people trying to save lives, so we got together trying to work out how we could solve that," Andrew Muir Wood, one of the founders, said.
The group of campaigners said NHS staff are faced with canteens that shut at 5pm and limited other options throughout their shifts.
A surgeon from a coronavirus intensive care unit told Meals for the NHS: "At weekends, overnight and evenings there is virtually nothing to eat except a crap vending machine with crisps and chocolate. Seriously."
URGENT: NHS workers can’t work if they’re hungry.— Meals For The NHS (@MealsForTheNHS) March 24, 2020
There are doctors in your local hospital who will be in the middle of their shift tonight and won't have anything to eat.
Buy daily meals for @NHSuk staff, direct from local restaurants, at https://t.co/L1jVV6qDR6 #FeedTheNHS pic.twitter.com/l3KcmJJegP
Mr Muir Wood said the idea spawned when he and a group of friends discussed their concerns about NHS workers not being able to eat properly.
UK lockdown measures mean the group have had to coordinate their efforts online. They then got in touch with local food makers with the idea of getting hot meals into hospitals.
At first, the five volunteers put money from their own back pockets into the initiative, cobbling together around £2,000 between them.
"It was a bit of a gamble at the start of the week but by Wednesday we had enough public support to cover the cost then it spiralled from there - it's been crazy," said Mr Muir Wood.
"Tonight, being supplied with a hot meal, you can’t understand the impact that's had on the nurses - especially during a gruelling shift." Helena, Matron managing 6 wards pictured here at @KingsCollegeNHS— Meals For The NHS (@MealsForTheNHS) March 27, 2020
Support local restaurants and #FeedTheNHS at https://t.co/L1jVV6IffG pic.twitter.com/V2PlIMrYUH
They shared the campaign among family and friends, but soon the idea began spreading on social media.
"It was being shared by the NHS workers as well, who have been hugely appreciative of these meals," Mr Muir Wood added.
"For them to know there will be a hot meal waiting for them at a specific time, and to know that meal has been provided by the public, is a huge morale boost and lets them see a ray of light at a dark time for them."
As the campaign grows, the co-founder said he expected the cost per meal to reduce. It currently costs around £5-6 per meal.
Mr Muir Wood said the quarter-of-a-million raised so far will go "a really long way".
Elsewhere, food delivery service Deliveroo said they will make half a million meals available to NHS staff for free during the outbreak.
The London-based company said it is working with restaurant partners to provide food to frontline workers, and had already received pledges of 350,000 free meals.
Deliveroo customers ordering food will also be able to donate through the app, contributing funds to buy meals for nurses and doctors.