An effort to help people in rural parishes get healthy meals, which began in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, has reached a milestone with expansion plans on the cards.
Director of Community Outreach with Slow Foods Barbados, Julie McNeel, said the organisation’s Slow Soup Drive, which celebrated its 50 000 servings landmark on Monday, needs more resources to make a greater impact on the communities it serves.
“We started in April 2020 as a response to the pandemic because we recognised that many Barbadians did not have access to high-quality locally-grown food. We have seen an increased need for the soups we provide three days a week, as well as more access to food generally, so we are hoping to expand our services,” McNeel said.
She said that, so far, several chefs and farmers have come onboard with the programme which is based at Walkers Reserve, a former sand quarry in St Andrew that is undergoing rehabilitation for agricultural purposes.
“We actually just released a cookbook which is available now, featuring recipes from 22 chefs who have been in this programme with us, and we have had over 30 chefs working with us over the last two years, as well as numerous farmers who have donated their crops to us,” McNeel said.
“We presently serve 100 soups a day – on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – to people living in St Andrew, St Peter and St Lucy. We also had clients in St Joseph but we had to give that up recently because we did not have enough drivers to service that area adequately.”
McNeel, therefore, called on Barbadians to lend their support to the venture.
“Once you are 16 years and older, you can come in and assist in the kitchen and we give our drivers a stipend for their work. We are proud of what we have accomplished so far as this has been truly a collective effort in the community we serve,” she said.
As they celebrated their accomplishment on Monday, Slow Foods brought in a special guest, Pierre Serrao, a chef with Barbadian roots who is based in the Bronx, New York where he is part of a similar collective organisation.
“My organisation, Ghetto Gastro, has worked with major brands in the United States and around the world to create culinary experiences primarily focused on organic products hailing from places like Africa, the Caribbean and South East Asia. When I heard from Julie what Slow Foods was doing here, I decided to get involved because it is similar to what I do in the Bronx, and my father was born here in Barbados and I was raised between here and the United States, so I have strong ties to this island,” he said.
Serrao said that people generally needed to eat healthier and urged Barbadians to come out and assist with the Soup Drive.
“If we want to look good, we have to cook good, and you have to eat proper food in order to perform at proper levels. It is best to eat natural products from the earth, but one of the problems is that there are still many people out there without proper access to healthy food. So, I would urge drivers and anyone else who can assist with this programme to come on out, just give some moments of your time and as you feed the people you will also feed your mind.” (DH)