FeedNHS was launched by actors Damian Lewis, Helen McCrory and fellow actor and comedian Matt Lucas, along with LEON restaurants at the end of the first week of lockdown.
The campaign was hastily put together, as a means to act on our group’s keenness to do more to support the NHS. So up went a JustGiving crowdfunder page on Thursday night, with the aim of raising £1million to provide hot and healthy meals to NHS staff.
Helen and Damian appeared on Good Morning Britain early the next morning, to talk about the ambition of the campaign which was informed by their work in the weeks leading up to it, which made clear that after medical supplies what staff most needed was easier reliable access to food.
Many doctors and nurses in critical care units do not have time to leave wards to get a good meal and the restaurants and eateries around their hospitals that they typically rely on, were closing.
LEON hoped other food and restaurant businesses would join and support this campaign. As while the restaurant industry was closing down as a result of the virus, there are suppliers and wholesalers who still have capacity and also food, and many talented entrepreneurs and know how across the industry. It is hoped that this is the start of the industry harnessing their resources to work together to feed the NHS.
FeedNHS will initially be working with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to deliver 5,600 hot meals per day to critical care staff, in five of their major hospitals.
The campaign follows the ongoing work of LEON and some other brands to support NHS workers as the crisis hit.
LEON introduced a 50% discount to NHS teams two weeks before launching Feed NHS and had served 19,214 meals to NHS workers at the discount.
LEON co-founder and CEO John Vincent said: “We have launched FeedNHS because we have been inundated with direct requests from NHS staff and from their families, asking us to feed them. These amazing people need us. They are already going without sleep. If they also don’t have good food, they will burn out faster, function less well and become ill themselves. We hope other restaurant brands will join us in helping them. They deserve all of our support for their own sake, and for the patients they’re looking after. The hospitality industry is full of wonderful and passionate people. I expect many will want to be part of this action where they can, and where they still have the capabilities and facilities.”
Damian Lewis said: “We’ve got some good friends in the NHS working on the frontline and we’ve been asking how we can help. One answer was food. With cafes closed and staff working longer hours, eating at work was becoming a real problem. Our first point of call was John Vincent at Leon and we had to go no further. Together we are working on providing the solution that is desperately needed. We are giving money ourselves and inviting others to do the same.”
Actor Matt Lucas said: “Here’s a chance for us all to make sure as many incredible NHS workers as possible can focus on their work and not have to worry about how they’re going to get healthy food. Please donate if you can”.
Every trust will be coming up with local solutions. LEON also want this to be a rallying cry to other restaurants and caterers who are still open to help and get involved with FeedNHS.