"I have been cooking at the Growing Tree After school service for 4 years now. I can be cooking for as many as 35 children but it varies all the time.
When I first started, I was determined to make the meals healthier and to increase the variety of options. This was a difficult task on a budget. I can honestly say it would have been impossible if it hadn't been for the donations from FoodCloud. I now go to collect the food myself and I can tailor the menu to what is on offer from the store that week.
The more fruit and vegetables the better, as with a bit of imagination and creativity one can make a huge variety of dishes - soups, salads and even cakes or crepes. Vegetables can be grated and added to bulk out all kinds of dishes, from fish cakes to meat pies to bolognese. Some children who would have been very fussy eaters will broaden their diet now by taking some vegetable soup or will eat vegetables wrapped in a crepe with a sprinkle of cheese and often even come back for more! Other children prefer raw vegetable sticks.
It is always very unpredictable what might be available each week from our retail partners. However there is usually a variety on offer and always bread from the bakery which I will freeze so we can have daily bread and butter with soup. I also make homemade pizza breads, savoury stuffing and bread and butter pudding.
There is never any fruit wasted as the children love the fruit on offer. Since joining FoodCloud, some children have had the opportunity to try new fruit they have never even seen or heard of before. When there is a large quantity of apples or pineapples, I have made upside-down cakes.
We have very gratefully received some large cuts of meat from Tesco from time to time. And as it freezes so well, I have been able to wait for the right vegetables to come in and make full roast dinners complete with stuffing entirely from the FoodCloud food (except the gravy).
I would find it hard to put an exact figure on how much we save from receiving food through FoodCloud but it is enormous and it allows us to make much more creative and healthy meals. It also allows children to try new foods that they may never have come across had they not come in through FoodCloud.
There is often a surplus of bread and possibly other perishable foods like salads, these are bagged on the day they come in and given to some parents who are struggling financially and we know these are also gratefully received.
I can honestly say that very little of the food that comes into our facility is wasted."