Rugby College students and staff donating 100s of meals to homeless centre

Homeless centre – Rugby College

College hospitality department students and staff have been supporting a Rugby homeless centre by donating hundreds of ready-to-eat meals.

Rugby College, which is part of WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group), is supporting charity Hope4 which operates The Hope Centre on Newbold Road, based only five minutes from the college site.

Students studying hospitality and catering at the college cook dishes on a daily basis as part of their course. But after the day’s cooking there is regularly surplus food remaining, so staff and students came up with a plan to create meals with the extra ingredients and send them to the homeless centre.

They have been making hot meals back at the college, which can then be frozen and delivered to Hope4 to support individuals who benefit from their service.

More than 40 Level 1 and Level 2 students have been involved in the project so far – with the college donating around 50 meals a week to the centre.

Alan Clark, course lecturer at Rugby College, said: “In order for us to assess the students, we have to order in a wide, varied selection of food for them to work with and cook. Before Covid-19 we would have run our restaurant at lunch time in order to use up the excess food, but instead we have been able to donate meals to support the incredible work they do at Hope4.

“We are regularly in contact with the team at Hope4 to see what they need, so we can help them to meet the increasing demand for their services. The students have been producing a range of meals for the centre, and the only limitation we have really is that it has to be freezable.

“So far we’ve donated dishes such as ratatouille, pumpkin curry, vegetable curry, lentil soup, and tomato soup. If we make it as part of the course, we’ll be donating it to Hope4. The initiative is being driven by the students and it’s great that they are committing to making a positive impact on their local community.”

Adi Robinson, who is the Hope Centre’s Service Delivery Manager, said: “We are so grateful that the college reached out to us at the Hope Centre. The opportunity of this partnership comes at a crucial time as we head into the winter period.

“The pandemic has impacted on our previous model as we have had to temporarily suspend our normal food provision delivered by our fantastic volunteer teams, and had to adapt our service offer to ensure that our clients are supported as best and as safely as we can during these challenging times.

“Many clients are safe in temporary accommodation as part of the ‘Every one in’ campaign, so having the frozen meal options enables us to issue food packs to clients who have the facility to reheat the food back at their accommodation. This is really valued by the clients as it enables them to have choice and retain their independence.”