FoodOnCampus team turns closure into a boost for the local community

When nationwide measures to combat COVID-19 forced all non-essential University services to close, the FoodOnCampus team stepped up their support for vulnerable members of the community.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, FoodOnCampus – responsible for managing food and drink outlets on campus – delivered surplus food on a daily basis to FareShare, a food waste charity in Openshaw, as well as refuge centres in Fallowfield and Plymouth Grove.

When they were forced to close on-campus services in March 2020, they were happy to 'knock on the door' and saw the opportunity to continue to support those most in need.

Within 24 hours a group of volunteers had moved quickly and decisively to clean and sanitise vans and fridges, as well as share leftover food between a local foodbank, homeless charity and the catering team who were still working to look after students at halls of residence.

Waste not, want not

“The whole team rallied round with the first priority ensuring that all kitchen and operational areas were cleaned and made safe,” explains Jonathan Minshull, General Manager of Hospitality Services.

“The food collection took a full day across all the areas. The food was sorted and distributed into piles ready for allocation. The Catered Residences team came over to reallocate their share. They have a duty of care to ensure our large number of international students (who are struggling to travel) are fed.”

“The remainder of the food – milk, bread, potatoes, fruit and vegetables – was delivered to FareShare,” Jonathan continues. “All the sandwiches were collected by Janice Stephenson, a chef at our halls of residences who has direct contact with homeless charities in Manchester, and distributed on the day of collection.”

“Everyone was extremely grateful for the delivery and we were pleased that we could help them and ensure that no food went to waste. It was a great team effort from the Retail, Hospitality and Residences teams.”

Food for thought

“We’re a strong team anyway, but I believe we’ll become much stronger during this period of uncertainty,” explains Jonathan, whose team are all connected on WhatsApp, using it to talk daily and check in on each other.

“We have to stay hopeful, as we don’t know what we'll be returning to. This pandemic will have an impact on the University and on hospitality services globally, but we’ll be here to support others on campus,” he contines.

“In the meantime I’d say: ‘make sure you have a daily routine that keeps you focused and gives you a sense of achievement at the end of the day, but more importantly, keep safe!’”