The Trumpington Food Hub opened in the pavilion on Tuesday May 5 last year, supported by the City Council, the Trumpington Residents’ Association and Cambridge Sustainable Food, and this afternoon a group of the volunteers who have kept it going every week since will meet on the rec to reflect on what we’ve achieved and how we have worked to look after each other during the last sixteen months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The way the community worked to support those in need, with mutual aid groups coordinated via WhatsApp, the trumpington.info website, and the Trumpington Volunteer Service all emerging to add to the work done by existing groups of all types and sizes, has been a real testament to our ability to care for and look after one another. Over the year we’ve seen prescriptions collected, pets walked, food delivered and all sorts of other support, especially for those who needed to shield during the most difficult periods as this awful disease spread.
Things are a bit easier now, with many of us fully-vaccinated and elements of day-to-day living restored, although we are clearly not through the pandemic and still need to be careful and responsible.
Last week I was one the volunteers who helped prepare the evening meals with Food Cycle Cambridge. This is a great charity that receives unsold food from shops and supermarkets to prepare regular meals for people across Cambridge.
I first volunteered in 2016, just before Christmas. Now that my children have left home I don’t have to worry so much about family obligations, and I’ve also become less happy with the excess consumption that is so common. I decided that over this period I will always try to give to the community, so rather than have an office Christmas dinner last year the office was closed and those who wished to volunteer joined me at Food Cycle.
This year we did the same.
The community kitchen isn’t big, but it was fine for the team of four plus our supervisor to prepare and cook two dishes for the main course and two desserts, all vegetarian dishes and the majority vegan. It was a challenge but fun and we were all proud of the dishes made.
My part in the evening was very small, but it has made a big impact on me. I was a cog in wheel that was turning to do good. There are many more wheels turning to improve the lives of others and every effort to assist is important.
If I’m elected to represent Trumpington then I’ll work hard to support great initiatives like this. We shouldn’t expect volunteers to replace services that should be properly funded, like libraries, but there are many areas of our lives where voluntary work can make a difference to people – and be rewarding for those taking part, as I’ve found myself.
I’m a member of this network of public, private and community organisations here in Cambridge and also the surrounding villages working to promote a local sustainable local food network, and is part of the Sustainable Food Cities Network. Cambridge has achieved the bronze level award, which is a fantastic achievement as we are one of only eleven cities to achieve this out of 46 who are registered. We are now aiming for the silver level.
But yesterday I was at the cookery workshop for elderly people – it was fun and I learnt how to cook soda bread, a great vegetable soup and some of the concerns older people have regarding cooking but which can relate to all of us as tests us under different circumstances. Cooking alone and judging the quantity so we are not eating the same meals for 5 days in a row, or when offspring return home and still have particular meal needs even though they have been away or a decade or two, and getting back that enjoyment of a social meal.
This was the first of 6 sessions and I’ll go back to see what else I can learn. And the soup and bread smelt SO good when I had to leave…
I’ve been campaigning about food issues for a long time, and I’m especially interested in the ways we can reform food production and distribution.
I’ve now joined the management committee of Cambridge Sustainable Food Hub, a network of public, private and community organisations in Cambridge and the surrounding villages, working to promote food that is good for people and good for the environment.