When lockdown was announced, not-for-profit community café, The Merstham Mix Café, rapidly refocused its skills and resources, launching a local hot meal delivery service at the end of March. Under this new service the staff and volunteers have recently passed the 4,000-meal milestone, serving some 70 different households in Merstham, many of them sheltering vulnerable members of the local community.
Faced with the sudden blow of closing its doors to the Merstham community, which has come to value The Mix’s welcoming space and affordable, fresh-cooked meals in the two and a half years since it opened, the café’s staff and volunteers seized the initiative to refocus skills and resources. Their aim was to help vulnerable members of the community eat well and stay safe during lockdown as well as give local, locked-down households the option of a well-deserved break from cooking for large families at home.
All the delivered meals are created and freshly cooked by head chef, Neil, who trained with Jamie Oliver and has worked in several prestigious restaurants. Chef, staff, and over 25 volunteers from across Redhill and Reigate, work together to operate a well-oiled machine that prepares and delivers around 40 nutritious hot meals daily to people’s front doors. About 75% of the meals are subsidised – a huge help to people who need ongoing support or are facing hardship due to the crisis.
The Merstham Mix Café has worked closely with a range of local partners, including charities, local private sector corporates, and individuals (which included a local fundraising campaign that raised £7,158) who want to make a difference. This support and community spirit have been vital in making the meal delivery service a success.
Commenting on what it’s like to be a customer, local residents Mr. and Mrs. Hamzi said: “We want to thank the wonderful team at The Mix for the great work they’re doing. Our very elderly friend can’t cook for herself and having hot, nutritious meals delivered daily is invaluable for her health and peace of mind. And for ours!”.
Chair of The Merstham Mix Café, Jody Halstead, commented, “The whole team have been brilliant! From creation to implementation each individual has risen to challenge and reaching this milestone is testament to their hard work and the community spirit which helped us drive this initiative forward”.
Volunteer Liz Braines said: “It’s great to see the cheerful faces as we deliver The Mix’s meals. Knowing that we’re helping cut food waste, whilst keeping vulnerable members in our community safe is hugely rewarding.”