United Kingdom

Cooking for the local community

On a rather warm evening in June, when England were playing a crucial match against Belgium in the World Cup, the Aspen UK team were preparing for a different kind of challenge – working with a charity called Foodshare, located near the new Aspen UK office in Maidenhead.

Foodshare organises many projects to help the local community, including food banks (supplying essentials to people including food, washing powder and toiletries) and a service called Open Kitchen, which provides hot meals to those who need them most days of week. ͞Open Kitchen has become an essential service to many local people, said Lisa Syne, National Sales Manager, Aspen UK, who organised the team’s Mandela Day activities. This includes those who are homeless, vulnerable, on low income or lonely elderly people who like the atmosphere and being part of community.

Working with the Open Kitchen coordinators, the Aspen UK team developed a nutritious menu which included soup, roast chicken with vegetables, choice of pudding and fresh fruit to take away. Around 30 meals were served in the community hall of a local church, with tables set up to look like a little restaurant. The Aspen team was divided into a kitchen team and a serving team. Lisa added: The kitchen team had a challenging time, as it was extremely hot evening and working with an industrial cooker that was like a furnace added to heat! The serving team enjoyed chatting with guests, many of which were football fans so there was much speculation about the outcome of the games.

Food and service both received lots of plaudits from both guests and organisers. The guests enjoyed the food and were keen to know when Aspen would return to cook again. The Open Kitchen team was also very happy to see Aspen volunteers working well together to deliver a high-quality meal, while their regular volunteers benefited from a welcome night off from their duties. Nick Scott, General Manager, Aspen UK said: Mandela Day represents a great opportunity to build closer links with the local community in Maidenhead, where our UK office is now based. I was proud to see the UK team come together to make and serve a memorable meal to those in need.