A not-for-profit community café in Merstham has now passed the milestone of delivering over 4,000 hot meals to local residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
When lockdown began in March, The Merstham Mix Café faced the sudden blow of having to close its doors to the general public in line with Government rules.
But staff and volunteers decided to seize the opportunity to put their skills and resources towards running a meal home-delivery service.
The aim was to help vulnerable members of the community eat well and stay safe, and also give locked-down households a break from cooking for large families at home.
The service is still continuing, with meals created and cooked by head chef Neil, who trained with Jamie Oliver and who has worked in several prestigious restaurants.
The chef, staff and over 25 volunteers from across Redhill and Reigate have worked together to prepare and deliver the meals, serving 70 households in Merstham.
Around 75% of the meals are subsidised, helping people who need ongoing support or who are facing hardship due to the crisis.
To make the meal delivery service a success, The Merstham Mix Café has worked with local partners including charities, businesses and individuals.
Among the efforts, a local fundraising campaign raised £7,158.
Local residents Mr and Mrs Hamzi said of the service: “We want to thank the wonderful team at The Mix for the great work they’re doing.
“Our very elderly friend can’t cook for herself and having hot, nutritious meals delivered daily is invaluable for her health and peace of mind – and for ours.”
On passing the 4,000 meal mark, Jody Halstead, chair of The Merstham Mix Café said: “The whole team has been brilliant.
“From creation to implementation each individual has risen to challenge and reaching this milestone is testament to their hard work and the community spirit which helped us drive this initiative forward”.
Volunteer Liz Braines said: “It’s great to see the cheerful faces as we deliver The Mix’s meals.
“Knowing that we’re helping cut food waste, whilst keeping vulnerable members in our community safe is hugely rewarding.”
The Merstham Mix Café, based at the Mertham Community Hub in Portland Drive, opened in 2017.
It aims to provide fresh-cooked, affordable meals by working with food surplus partners and using donated goods alongside food from its regular suppliers.