THE inspirational work of a chef and pub owner has been praised by his MP after he cooked up a groundbreaking scheme to help vulnerable people struggling with food poverty.
Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson has praised Adam Franklin, 48, who owns the Horse & Jockey pub in Melling with his wife Sue, who started Fed Up eight years ago after being challenged by a food bank to survive on one of their emergency packages for three days.
Adam said the food bank challenge inspired him to start Fed Up! which teaches individuals and families how to make slow-cooker meals. And when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Sue Adam and manager James launched Melling Volunteers, cooking over 15,000 meals and putting together 2,000 care packages for delivery to local people who were isolated.
Adam said: “When the foodbank asked me, as a chef whether I could survive on one of their three-day food packages the answer was a resounding no! That was eight years ago and since then we have supported people to learn to cook but also to feel good about themselves and their own skills. When the first lockdown was announced we decided to turn the pub into a community kitchen, and now we have a team of 50 volunteers helping to support the local community.”
Melling Volunteers have delivered meals and offered support to vulnerable people in the village. Volunteers manned phones, coordinated deliveries, picked up prescriptions and delivered meals. More than 300 people have been helped and the group continue to support those that still need them. During the recent half-term holiday, they provided 20 to 30 packed lunches per day to children and families in response to the government’s failure to provide support to children on free school meals through the school holidays.
Adam said: “During half-term it seemed the obvious thing to do to provide packed lunches. When the first national lockdown was announced we immediately turned the pub kitchen into a community kitchen to help people who were struggling in isolation. It was a natural next step as we had already been running Fed Up! for many years.”
At the end of the four lesson course, Fed Up! give a slow cooker and a bag of store-cupboard ingredients to each participant. Adam has delivered the course in various settings, including in mental health facilities, volunteer groups, community centres and for companies with a focus on staff wellbeing.
Adam described some of the Fed Up! scheme’s success stories. He said: “We had a young mother come on the course on the insistence of her own mum. At the first session she wouldn’t entertain trying any of the food and sat folded arms throughout the first lesson and did not contribute. On the fourth lesson she brought in a vegetarian curry that she’d been cooking that morning for everybody to try.
“A recent resident of a long-term mental care facility whose confidence was so low and his anxiety prevented him from maintaining eye contact with anybody for more than a couple of seconds, after completing the course he went on to become a kitchen assistant at a venue in Liverpool city centre and visited the pub recently to introduce his fiance as they are planning to get married next year. Slow cooking is still a major part of his daily routine.
“Obstacles to cooking a nutritious meal at home are not restricted to financial. It’s really difficult when you’re suffering from crippling depression to even get out of bed or roll off the couch.”
Bill Esterson MP paid a socially distant visit to the pub during half-term to see first-hand the work they were doing to provide packed lunches.
He said: “Adam and Sue are an inspiration and give so much to Melling and the wider community across Sefton and Kirkby. The Fed Up! programme is just brilliant and I would urge any community groups or services in the area to get in touch with Adam who I know would love to take this programme far and wide and help as many people as possible to lead more positive and healthy lives.”