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The Wildmoor Oak pub restaurant is helping to provide free healthy meals for vulnerable people in the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Like many restaurant owners, Chef Lorenzo Richards from The Wildmoor Oak had to look at new ways to maintain an income when he had to temporarily close his premises to the public in March. He set up a take-away service for customers, available Wednesday – Sunday, but also wanted to do something to help those struggling during lockdown.

Lorenzo seized on an initiative to recycle food from supermarkets and warehouses that would otherwise be destroyed. Donating his time and passion for cooking, Lorenzo heads a team of around five staff volunteers who turn the raw ingredients in to a variety of healthy dishes – including vegetarian and vegan options. Dishes have included pasta bakes, fish in sauce and curries. Over 300 meals are produced every Tuesday in the kitchen at The Wildmoor Oak.  

Lorenzo is working in partnership with FoodCycle in Longbridge, a national charity established in 2009, with a vision for a society where no one is hungry or lonely. FoodCycle provides the ingredients and then collects the prepared meals each Wednesday from The Wildmoor Oak. The meals are distributed to anyone in need, such as low-income families, asylum seekers and refugees, the elderly, and people dealing with mental health issues. Lorenzo’s food has also been enjoyed by staff at West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Jody Beswick from FoodCycle said: “We would like to express a huge thank you for the effort Lorenzo and his team put in to support us with our food parcel service. Many people delay ordering their parcels as they are now aware that Wednesday and Thursday are ‘Lorenzo food day’ and we actually see an increase for parcels on these days. The volunteers get a buzz when the food arrives at our hub as they are eager to see what Lorenzo’s team have prepared. The Wildmoor Oak is bringing a bit of happiness to the people we try to help in these challenging times.”

Chef Lorenzo said: “We are proud to be able to make use of our restaurant facilities and culinary skills to help others who are struggling during the pandemic. Every year almost 2 million tonnes of surplus food is wasted by the UK food industry! This initiative helps stop this massive waste of food whilst having a positive impact on the local area by helping those in need.”

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Chef Lorenzo makes use of surplus food to prepare healthy meals for those in need