UK's Restaurants Rally To Feed The Homeless As Snowy Weather Continues
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The unrelenting weather in the UK has been quite the conversation topic in the past week or so, with kids enjoying snow days off school and workers being sent to do their jobs from their sofas. Understandably, it's pretty much all we're talking about.
For many, it's all been a bit exciting - sure, the public transport fails may have made life a bit difficult, but overall, it's proven to be a nice excuse to curl up with a mug of hot cocoa and treat yourself to a duvet day.
However, not everyone's able to take such luxury from the adverse weather conditions. The vulnerable many living on the streets have been left scrambling for cover, with community and religious buildings across the country opening up their doors to provide emergency shelter.
And because providing a roof over someone's head is just part of the solution, many of the UK's restaurants and cafés have also rallied together to make sure the homeless community has plenty of nourishing food.
Cafe owner and food writer Elly Curshen, who owns Pear Cafe in Bristol, said that her and her staff had rustled up mountains of sandwiches for the homeless before closing for the day.
Speaking to FOODbible, she explained that she wanted to kill two birds with one stone by helping the homeless, while also reducing waste.
"The cafe's only ever open Monday to Friday anyway, so we had no chance of hoping to use up stuff before tomorrow," she said.
"We came in this morning and I saw that all the Bristol buses were cancelled so hardly anyone was going to be able to get to work anyway, and we always - all year round - do everything we can to reduce waste, so I was straight away trying to work out what we could do.
"We were going to have to open today anyway as we had a pre-order of some sandwiches - I wasn't sure if those people were going to be in work, so we thought we'd go in and then make everything up in sandwiches, and then take them to the homeless shelter.
"We made absolutely loads of sandwiches, frittata, hummus and things that we had leftover at the cafe, and then we walked through the snow to The Compass Centre, which is a local day centre for rough sleepers.
"Everything's gone from the cafe and been dropped off, and they were really happy."
Elly added: "Obviously there were people that need them, but also nothing's been wasted. The idea of that stuff going in the bin when people could eat it is just painful at any time, and especially in this weather it's even worse.
"We're fit and well and can walk through the snow - we haven't got to try and get in a car, we all live really central, so we just thought we'd go out and do it."
Elly continued to say that people should also consider the types of donations that will prove the most helpful.
"They were really happy, and they just said that if anyone wants to bring anything else it needs to be ready-to-eat things, not food that needs to be cooked.
"Often if they get dropped off a load of vegetables, it's all well and good, but they haven't got the kitchen facilities or the time or people to turn it into anything.
"Even with bread, they said, 'We don't have any butter here,' so it doesn't get eaten because people don't just want to eat the bread on its own."
Franco Manca, a pizzeria chain that has 41 restaurants across the country, has also pledged to give away 28,700 pizzas to the homeless over the next week.
Another Serious post - We are preparing for the coldest week in 5 years and our teams want to do their best to help those with less warmth and shelter than themselves. Pls tweet us if you know anyone who could do with some warming pizza on us during the week. Thanks for your help pic.twitter.com/ejnwK458UQ
- Franco Manca Pizza (@FrancoMancaPizz) February 26, 2018
A Franco Manca spokesman said: "With snow already falling and weather warnings rife, the UK is bracing itself for the coldest week so help fight the chill, our team want to help those most in need by offering free pizza for the duration of the week.
"For people who are sleeping rough on the streets, struggling to cope with freezing temperatures is made even harder by constant hunger."
Other restaurants and cafes doing the good deed include Bird of Smithfield in London, which is serving up free soup and hot drinks for those in need.
FREE HOT SOUP ' FREE COFFEE & TEA today at Bird of Smithfield.
Please spread the word and let the homeless know. Stay warm and safe!@centrepointuk @Shelter pic.twitter.com/7zn2KT6t6G
- Bird of Smithfield (@BirdSmithfield) March 1, 2018
And in Manchester, many restaurants are also used to feeding the homeless with much-needed hot meals all year round, as part of the city's ingenious Not Just Soup initiative, which teams up with local businesses to help feed people throughout the week.
Massive thanks to @HawksmoorMCR providing warm food for the homeless in this bitter weather tonight. pic.twitter.com/HhDY8XHuJH
- Not Just Soup (@notjustsoupMCR) February 27, 2018
Just this week McDonald's came under fire when footage emerged of an American man, Yossi Gallo, getting kicked out of one of their restaurants after he took a homeless man for a meal there.
But it's good to see that while the struggle is very much real, thanks to many other restaurants and businesses working hard, the hustle is strong.
Find out more information here on what to do if you see someone who's homeless in need of help.