How you can help support them to keep our community and key workers fed

Eat Well Mcr was initially formed in the early days of lockdown. Sparked by a conversation with her sister, a palliative care specialist, chef Mary Ellen McTague realised that those working on the front line often don’t get to eat properly whilst they’re busy caring for others. She reckoned that most hard working key workers might find some comfort in a nutritious hot meal through what is arguably the biggest challenge of their career.  

I’m so proud of our city and our industry. I’ve been seeing the absolute best in people since we started this thing

Fifty hot, nutritious meals were delivered that day, from McTague’s kitchen at The Creameries in Chorlton, to the team at Wythenshawe A&E. Since then, thanks to a collective response from Manchester’s hospitality community, this has now grown to become over 1800 weekly meals.

170516 Mary Ellen Mc Tague
Chef Mary Ellen McTague began the Eat Well Mcr project in the very early days of lockdown. She has now been joined by many other members of Manchester's hospitality industry, keen to help feed the community and key workers

"Feeding people is the best way of showing people that you care - that you wish to support them,” says Mary-Ellen, a chef of 20 years’ experience. “Faced with an empty restaurant kitchen, and a load of donations of fresh food that had no other place to go, the obvious thing to do was to cook the food and take it to those who needed it.”

Mary Ellen, who was a two-time finalist on BBC2’s Great British Menu in 2013 and 2014, has now been joined by a collective of chefs, hospitality leaders and volunteers who aim to support more than 2000 key workers and vulnerable people with hot food and supplies every week. 

Cloudwater Brewery, Elite Bistros, Honest Crust, Beehive Foods, Where the Light Gets in, Hawksmoor, Higher Ground, Isca, A Taste of Honey, The Eagle & Child, Baratxuri and many others have pooled resources, by responding to acute demand from hospitals, foodbanks, homelessness organisations and social care facilities. Thanks to them responding to genuine need and diverting resources to where it’s needed most, organisations across Greater Manchester receive what they need, when they need it.

Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, Eat Well MCR and their suppliers are providing meals and access to fresh produce and essential goods to families with children in local hospitals, those living with food poverty, women seeking refuge, homeless people, and frontline NHS workers.

2020 05 14 Eat Well Mcr Rachel Stockley
Chef Rachel Stockley from Baratxuri helping cook and box up healthy nutritious food

“After a shout out on Twitter and Instagram for food donations, and help with cooking, the offers flooded in and we haven’t stopped since,” adds McTague. “I’m so proud of our city and our industry. I’ve been seeing the absolute best in people since we started this thing, and it’s a great privilege to be able to do what we’re doing. Food inequality isn’t new, and it isn’t going away any time soon, but we feel like we’ve now found a way to be part of the solution to a very unfair problem.”

But now they’re reaching out to the people of Greater Manchester, in a video via their social media channels, to officially launch their Eat Well MCR fundraising campaign. The campaign aims to raise urgently needed funds so they can continue supporting those in need. 

Just £1 can provide a warm nutritious meal. Donations can be made here.

2020 05 14 Eat Well Mcr Flapjack
Nutritious and delicious flapjack boxed up...
2020 05 14 Eat Well Mcr
...and ready to be delivered to those on the front line, or to families who need extra support

Next month, on June 6th at 7pm, Clint Boon and Hattie Pearson will host an auction and prize draw on United We Stream. Prizes and performances will be announced on Eat Well MCR’s social media channels over the coming weeks.

You can see the launch campaign and how to enter on Instagram and Twitter: @EatWellMCR 

Read: Manchester bars and restaurants unite to request a desperately needed rent pause

Also read: Lily’s: Keeping key workers well-fed

Read again: Food for all – Could we come out of this with a bold plan to combat hunger?