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London cookery school provides meals for needy

By BO LEUNG in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-06-11 09:58
Shannon McAuliffe, School of Wok's operations manager, helps provide food for hard-up people in London. CHINA DAILY

Editor's note: This news column showcases stories from around the world that bring a touch of positivity to the fight against the deadly coronavirus.

The novel coronavirus outbreak and the United Kingdom's lockdown measures have inspired people from across the country to come out and do the best they can in helping the community.

The School of Wok in London is one of those organizations helping to feed the needy. After shutting its operations as a cookery school because of the pandemic, Shannon McAuliffe, the school's operations manager, wanted to keep busy and help out during the COVID-19 crisis.

With the support of School of Wok founder and Chinese-British celebrity chef Jeremy Pang, McAuliffe made use of an empty kitchen to serve those in need.

They are working with Plan Zheroes, a charity working with restaurants in making sure surplus food isn't going to waste and is helping the vulnerable around London.

Plan Zheroes is helping to distribute the cooked food across London supporting the likes of the Salvation Army, The School and Family Works, and Divine Rescue.

McAuliffe's Feed the Nation campaign began 10 weeks ago, and they have produced some 500 meals a week thanks to generous public donations.

McAuliffe said it costs from 2 pounds ($2.50) to buy a meal for someone in need.

"We've had contributions from family and friends and also food donations from food banks who have been overwhelmed with donations and so have passed that down for us to cook with," McAuliffe said. "We had one huge donation of 500 pounds which was incredible and that kept us going."

As well as meals distributed to various charities, around 100 meals a week are donated to St George's Hospital in Tooting, London, for National Health Service staff and essential workers.

Since the start of the lockdown, the group has raised nearly 6,500 pounds, and has cooked over 3,000 meals.

Continuing in future

"The donations go to numerous charities who in normal times would have received surplus food from all these restaurants and cafes which are closed. So not only could the charities not get the surplus food, a lot of their canteens are also closed because of social distancing, so people weren't being fed," Pang said.

With the lockdown measures easing, McAuliffe said he will keep the campaign running and hopes to continue it in the future.

"The demand is still out there and people are still crying out for help," he said. "When things go back to normal, charities and shelters still need this food, so I hope to keep this going and hope to run it alongside work when the school reopens."

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