COVID-19 Spotlight – ChangeKitchen CIC

15 April 2021

ChangeKitchen CIC is a social enterprise event catering company, specialising in vegetarian and vegan food and supporting adults furthest from the labour market back to work. Just before lockdown, the organisation had all bookings for events cancelled, as meetings were not allowed to go forward.

Not wanting to be idle, ChangeKitchen CIC became part of #BrumTogether, a collaborative project connecting voluntary organisations around Birmingham, providing support and essential supplies to those supporting people throughout the pandemic. Since the start of the lockdown, the organisation has worked with The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) to cook nourishing, tasty meals from surplus food for those who are shielding as well as people who have lost their job and struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Through the FareShare Go scheme, ChangeKitchen CIC collects food from Waitrose Hall Green and Waitrose Harborne which is then used to create nutritious meals.

Dr Birgit Kehrer, Director and Founder at ChangeKitchen CIC, said: “We’ve cooked 13,000 meals in the last three months, and we’re supporting around 360 people per day, with six meals a week delivered to their door. Nearly all this food comes from FareShare Go.

“We’re helping to feed really vulnerable people. A lot of people are in difficult situations currently and there have been whole families getting in touch who haven’t eaten for days. They’ve got no access to food, some are self-isolating. There’s 100s of stories where people are in heartbreaking circumstances – some people have tears in their eyes when the delivery drivers arrive.

“There’s a local organisation helping women escape domestic violence where the women have been moved into hotels but it means they have no access to cooking facilities. The local homeless charity SIFA Fireside, as well as Crisis, have referred some of the people resettled during Covid to us to receive hot meals.

“We’ve been working with Ken Axford from Warstock Community Centre, and they’ve been sharing their Waitrose food donations with us throughout the pandemic. We then barely had to buy anything else, so we’ve managed to make these 13,000 meals.

“The food we received from Waitrose made it possible to do all of this. The food is nutritious and colourful which is everything we need it to be. Collecting surplus food is also part of our ethos, trying to be as green as possible and minimise food waste.

“We cook fully veggie, mostly vegan, meals because it goes much further. We try to make the meals balanced by chopping up lots of veg – and it’s great as we get so many. From Waitrose we get really nice quality veg that lasts and we can turn it into really nice dishes like veggie cottage pies, stews, loads of pasta bakes, frittata if we have eggs. If we’ve had too many bananas or lemons, we’ve made cakes which people love”.

“Our Waitrose collections have been really good, the staff are really helpful and friendly, and the whole thing is super easy. We’ve been really pleased with our collections from Waitrose, it’s such a good quality of food. We get a lot of vegetables, fruit, some bread.

“Things are fizzing down a little bit now but I think it might get really bad again when redundancies hit so we might have to pick up again. We’re trying to stay involved enough that we can turn it back on quickly if we need to.

“We are now also going to see how we can safely serve our customers and fans again and are starting to take bookings for events again.”