Meal Service

This service is provided for people who are in acute health need. We arrange for seven days of prepared meals and additional groceries to be delivered once a week to people who are unable to cook for themselves. This service is available for a maximum of six weeks in any 12 month period to aid recovery or whilst long term support is arranged.

This service also provides for carers and family members, taking into account everyone’s dietetic requirements, allergies, food intolerances, preferences and religious and ethnic requirements.

For 25 years our volunteers prepared and delivered meals on a Sunday. From 1 April 2014 we now use external providers to prepare and deliver seven days worth of food.

To access this service it is necessary to be referred to the service by a referrer.

Changes to the Meal Service

To help summarise the recent changes to the meal service, we have put together a list of frequently asked questions, below.

What has changed?

From the end of March 2014 we no longer provide meals only on a Sunday.  This old service provided by volunteers has been replaced with a new service that provides 7 days’ worth of meals for those who need them, using an external provider. Our final delivery of meals by volunteers was on Sunday 30th March.

We are planning to introduce opportunities for service users to come together for a meal at week- ends in the same way that people currently do for Eating Together on Wednesdays. We hope that our current Sunday volunteers may be interested in providing this service as an alternative way of volunteering.

Why has the service changed?

The prepared meals are provided to those who are unable to cook for themselves and their families because they are too unwell to do so. It is testament to the great advances in HIV medication that by far the majority of people living with HIV today are not often faced with acute ill health.  We receive a small number of referrals each month for people who are very unwell.  We need to respond to these needs to the best of our ability and with the aim of achieving maximum nutritional benefit that will make a real difference to their recovery and regaining of independence.

Taking this in to account as part of a detailed strategic review of all our work the Board of Trustees has concluded that The Food Chain can provide greater benefit to this group of service users by providing meals on seven days of the week rather than just one. During 2013 we looked in to the feasibility of doing this in the same way as we do on Sundays but found that this would not be feasible.

For the majority of people referred to The Food Chain their needs relate as much to economic reasons, social isolation and lack of knowledge and skills to prepare nutritious meals than to specific health reasons. The Food Chain will continue to provide the dietetic advice, grocery hampers, Eating Positively cookery and nutrition classes and the Eating Together communal lunch for those who need our short term support at times of particular need or crisis.

What has happened to service users?

The Food Chain worked with existing service users and referrers during March to assess their current needs. By far the majority of people were found to be in a much better situation now than when they had first accessed our support.

What has happened to volunteers?

We hope that our current Sunday volunteers may be interested in providing the proposed week-end Eating Together communal lunch service as an alternative way of volunteering. We need a little time to plan and develop this new week-end service and to train volunteers in the new roles. Many of the roles are similar to the meal service roles but with the important added aspect to the service of meeting service users in person and spending time with them over a shared meal.