Meal Makers is a local neighbourhood food-sharing project that connects people who love cooking, and who are happy to share an extra portion of home cooked food, with an older neighbour who would really appreciate a freshly prepared meal and a friendly chat.
By turning an everyday activity into a volunteering opportunity, Meal Makers strengthens connections within communities and provides a flexible way for people to volunteer their time and skills locally in a way which suits them.
Meal Makers is another example of a project that was initiated by Food Train in response to an unmet need experienced by older adults. Every year Food Train conducts an annual survey to assess the levels of satisfaction with our services, and to identify what services older adults feel are lacking or inaccessible. An issue that was continually being highlighted by our members was issues surrounding cooking and a lack of access to freshly prepared meals. Our customers often tell us that they find cooking more difficult as they get older and become more reliant on prepared meals. Furthermore a number of our customers who live alone, who may well have the ability to cook freshly prepared food, express a lack of motivation around cooking due to the fact that they are only cooking for themselves. As well as this feedback from our customers, Food Train volunteers would also express concerns about certain customers not eating properly.
Cooking for older adults is a task typically undertaken by carers. However, Food Train is not a regulated Care Provider and were more in interested in taking a community based approach to this unmet need. Upon researching and investigating a number of different models Food Train settled on neighbourhood cooking concept that would use an online platform whereby volunteers could be matched with an older neighbour living in their local area with whom they could share an extra portion of their home cooked food.
Food Train attracted funding from the Scottish Government and Rank Foundation to bring Meal Makers to life, and the project was officially launched in Dundee as a pilot in August 2014. It very quickly proved to be a huge success and has quickly expanded into Glasgow in January 2015, Perth and Kinross in November 2015, Renfrewshire in January 2016 and Edinburgh in March 2015, clearly demonstrating our ability to successfully transfer the model geographically. We will continue to roll Meal Makers out across Scotland.
How does it work?
- Our Meal Makers volunteer ‘Cooks’ love cooking and they want to share their delicious food and get to know people in their local area.
- Customers, or ‘Diners’, are matched with a ‘Cook’ in their local area who will bring round an extra portion of their home cooked food at a time agreed by both parties.
- Meal sharing can occur as often as the ‘Cook’ and ‘Diner’ would like, whether that is weekly, fortnightly, or just now and again.
- Cooks are required to sign up online (https://www.mealmakers.org.uk/cooks/sign_up) and undertake a safeguarding process before being connected with a local ‘Diner’.
We currently offer our Meal Makers Service in Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, Glasgow, North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Stirling and West Lothian.
Who can use Meal Makers?
- You must over 55 and be a member of the Food Train to use Meal Makers.
- People of all ages are welcome to sign up as a volunteer ‘Cook’.
Health and Social Care Professionals wishing to make a referral, please see http://www.thefoodtrain.co.uk/our-services/referral for a referral form and send it by email or post to your local Food Train branch.
If you or someone you know would like to use a Food Train service, please complete and submit the form at http://www.thefoodtrain.co.uk/our-services/referral. You will be prompted to select which region of Scotland you live in so that your information can be sent to the correct regional branch of Food Train.