Education and Training

University kitchen helping feed 5,000 during coronavirus crisis

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 21 April 2020 16:19

University kitchen helping feed 5,000 during coronavirus crisis

A Gloucestershire university has revealed it has repurposed kitchens which would otherwise be closed due to the coronavirus lockdown to help feed 5,000 Gloucestershire residents. 

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) is currently only open to students in residence, mainly international students, and essential workers, leaving its kitchens in limbo. 

Which led Ryan Hanson, head of catering and retail at the RAU, to try to develop a project for preparing meals for staff at work or students in residence to buy at reduced costs and take home or freeze. 

It was an effort which eventually saw him join forces with a group called The Long Table, whose own ambitious food project aiming to help provide homecooked, healthy meals to those in need during the pandemic. 

Well-known Gloucestershire family food logistics business Creed Foodservice is also on-board helping provide ingredients. 

Mr Hanson said: “After speaking to the district and county councils and putting out a call on a community Facebook page, I was approached by The Long Table about the Feeding the 5,000 project.” 

The Long Table describes itself as a community-based kitchen and restaurant in Brimscombe, supported by the Diocese of Gloucester. 

Mr Hanson added: “While distribution was less of a problem for them, having access to additional catering facilities was. So together we were both ideally placed to help each other.” 

He and his dedicated catering team will be cooking 1,200 meals – including sausage casserole and veggie pesto pasta – which will be packaged up, labelled (including allergens) and frozen ready for distribution to the Cirencester community. 

The Long Table was founded by Tom Herbert, and when not throwing everything at keeping people fed during a pandemic is a community kitchen and restaurant in Brimscombe that serves food that would have been binned or wasted. 

It is part of the Grace Network CBS – “a group of people working together in a new way to serve its community” - and is linked to Furniture Bank, Kids Stuff and Kick Off Stroud. 

Mr Herbert might also be known to county foodies as one part of Hobbs House Bakery and once of Channel Four’s Fabulous Baker Brothers. 

For those wanting to place meal orders with The Long Table they should email cotswold@thelongtableonline.com or call 01285 323851.