Food blogger organises 10,000 meals and snacks for health care workers
Sydney-based food blogger Nagi Maehashi has made a big contribution to the wellbeing of frontline staff at Sydney Local Health District.
“Every day, I was reading stories about our health care workers – everything they’re sacrificing, how hard they’re working and the pressure they’re under during COVID-19.
“I felt like I had a moral obligation to do something. I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing,” she said.
Six years ago, after a career in corporate finance, Nagi’s passion for food drove her to create RecipeTin Eats, a blog where she creates and shares recipes with people all over the world.
And, in April, she set up Shout a Meal to deliver meals and snacks to health care workers at hospitals across Sydney.
“With their focus on patients, and the long hours they're working, too many health care workers were literally too exhausted to cook. We delivered fresh, nourishing meals and healthy snacks to them,” she said.
More than $45 000 was donated to the initiative via a GoFundMe page with the proceeds shared among 20 restaurants, cafes, catering companies and bakeries that prepared the meals and snacks.
With the help of Nagi’s hospitality industry contacts, about 10,000 main meals and ‘grab n go’ snacks – like savoury muffins, rolls and wraps – were delivered to hospitals across multiple Local Health Districts in Sydney in six weeks.
“Celebrity chef Guillaume Brahimi made 200 of the meals which he donated himself. He was among a number of people who pitched in behind-the-scenes,” said Nagi.
Across Balmain, Canterbury, Concord and RPA hospitals about 3,660 meals or ‘grab n go’ were delivered.
Shout a Meal was also designed to lend a hand to Nagi’s hospitality industry colleagues, many of whom no longer had jobs as a result of business shutdowns during COVID-19.
Meal delivery service, Baptiste and Wilson, was among the first to come on board.
“We were seeing our hospitality friends and neighbours being put out of work. Local cafes and restaurants were closing and our catering business was dramatically affected as well,” chef and co-owner Heather Handcock said.
“I had started trying to figure out a way to put people back to work and for the meals we were cooking and delivering to be provided to health care workers.
“So, when Nagi called and said to me ‘Do you want to be part of this? I said, Absolutely. 100 per cent, right away,’” she said.
As a result of the partnership with Shout a Meal, Baptiste and Wilson were able to employ people who’d lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19.
And, together with co-owner French chef Jean-Baptiste Alexandre they devised a weekly menu, the latest of which included Sri Lankan Chicken Curry with Turmeric Rice, Chilli Con Carne with Cornbread and Coriander Relish and Vegetable and Mushroom Bolognese with Rice.
The team at Baptiste and Wilson made 2700 meals at ingredient cost only, donating their kitchen space, time and delivery.
“We’ve had a lot fun doing it and seeing the health workers smiling, getting their meal at the end of their shift was enough to keep us going,” Jean-Baptiste said.
The District’s chief executive Dr Teresa Anderson said Shout a Meal was a shining example of how a simple idea can have a big impact.
“The kindness shown to our staff, and those in other Local Health Districts across Sydney, has been overwhelming. I’d like to thank Nagi and her team for all their time and effort.
“It’s such a thoughtful gesture which has contributed, in no small way, to their wellbeing during our response to the pandemic.
“It’s also heartening to know that people’s generosity kept hospitality workers in employment too during this challenging time. It’s a positive example of the ripple effect of a single idea on the wider community,” Dr Anderson said.