Business Chiefs Launch Strategy To Serve 1 Million Meals To NHS Frontline

One of Britain’s best-known businessmen, Ron Dennis CBE, has launched a major not-for-profit initiative to feed thousands of critical NHS workers with high quality meals over the next three months, enabling them to focus on saving lives and fighting COVID-19.

The nutritious and ready to eat meals will be made available free of charge to ICU teams, anaesthetic teams and A&E staff, who are unable to leave their clinical areas during their 12 hour shifts, which is the protocol being adopted by all COVID-19 designated hospitals. This service enables them to stay close to wards at all times without having to change out of protective clothing.

Delivering the initiative, called SalutetheNHS.org, has brought together a group of leading food, logistics, packaging and other specialists, and has mobilised a largescale, professional operation. The goal is to serve 1 million meals to key frontline NHS workers over the next three months, both those working in hospitals and others who are infected and self-isolating at home.

The Dennis family is donating £1 million to seed fund the initiative through their Dreamchasing Foundation, which is a charity, alongside £500,000 in match-funding. The Taylor Family Foundation has been the first to contribute to the match-fund with £50,000. They have been supported by Absolute Taste, one of Britain’s largest catering groups with its state-of-the-art kitchen in Bicester, Oxfordshire, while logistic support is being provided by Yodel, the leading parcel delivery service. Tesco will donate all the food and ingredients for the one million meals.

The group is also co-ordinating with NHS Charities Together, the official umbrella organisation for all the NHS charities around the country. Other campaign partners include Team Rubicon UK, the disaster response unit staffed by former British Army volunteers, bespoke packaging company Leeways, law firm Withers, creative consultancy Hunter Design, communications firm Maitland/AMO, and appliance service provider Domestic & General, which is providing a professional and secure process to handle new donations and commitments. These organisations are all working on a pro-bono basis.

SalutetheNHS.org plans to begin delivering the free meals from tomorrow, Monday 6th April, starting at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. The following week deliveries will start at Great Ormond Street, the London children’s hospital, and from there the programme will roll out to Government targeted locations across the country.

The meals will be made using food and ingredients supplied by Tesco and prepared by Absolute Taste, which is lending a significant part of its food production capacity to this effort. The meals will comprise of a series of ‘Boost Packs’ intended for critical frontline NHS staff to eat either during their shift or to take home at the end of a long day. There are also Home Packs, which will be delivered to vital NHS frontline staff who are infected and self-isolating at home. Example meals include Keralan veggie curry with wholegrain rice and lean beef chilli with veggie rice.

SalutetheNHS.org is now calling for other supporters to donate or make a specific contribution as production grows, and is asking people to call the dedicated hotline on 0800 497 0797 or to visit the campaign’s Just Giving page.

Ron Dennis CBE, co-founder of SalutetheNHS.org, said: “This is a time when all of us, individuals and businesses alike, need to stand up and be counted in the effort to combat COVID-19. We’re all in this together. I am delighted to be leading this initiative to help ensure that vital NHS workers have nutritious meals while they work every hour in this fight. It means they have one less thing to worry about. We have called this SalutetheNHS.org because I think we are all in awe of the work they are doing to save lives.

“I would like to thank Tesco, Absolute Taste, Yodel, Leeways, Domestic & General, Team Rubicon, Hunter Design, Withers and Maitland/AMO, for the enormous support they are giving. This is a huge logistical effort to build a major, professional food delivery operation almost from scratch in a week. I have been so impressed by the fantastic things we have achieved together so far, but we need support from others, as well as ongoing donations to keep this whole operation going.”

Dave Lewis, CEO of Tesco Group, said: “Ensuring families have access to the shopping essentials they need, safely, has been our priority over the last few weeks, and so we’re pleased to now be able to help front line NHS workers by donating food and ingredients to provide them with one million meals through SalutetheNHS.org. Covid-19 has reminded the country of the critical role of essential workers, and on behalf of Tesco colleagues, we would like to sincerely thank NHS staff for all they are doing.” 

Nigel Harris, owner of Absolute Taste and co-founder of SalutetheNHS.org, said: “Scientists will find the vaccine for Covid-19, I have no doubt. The frontline NHS medical teams need to treat their patients, and to do that they need medicines, beds, ventilators, PPE, and they themselves need what every human needs to function: water, sleep, support and food. That’s where we can help in the war against Covid-19. We can make sure they get quality, nutritious and balanced food over a sustained period. So they can do what they do. This is what SalutetheNHS.org has been set up to do.”

Mike Hancox, Chief Executive at Yodel said: “We’re doing everything we can to keep the country moving during this unprecedented time and our colleagues across the business feel honoured to be able to support such a worthy cause. We are tremendously grateful for everything that the NHS is doing, and it is a privilege to be able to support workers. Producing and distributing meals to the NHS frontline will require careful planning and a collaborative effort from all the partners involved, and we’re confident we have the right team in place to do it.”

Ellie Orton, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together said: “Fuelling our NHS staff with nutritious, practical and tasty food packs during the COVID-19 crisis is of upmost importance. NHS staff and volunteers are doing an amazing job on the frontline working day and night in the face of this virus. These NHS heroes prioritise their valued patients, therefore it is so important that we support these esteemed professionals as they are combating the Covid-19 pandemic. NHS Charities Together is pleased to work with Ron, Nigel, and the other teams, to support and endorse SalutetheNHS.org. It is our joint aim to prioritise the well-being of our NHS workforce in their mission to give the very best care to patients and victory over COVID-19. We thank them for this highly dedicated and organised solution and we particularly love the thank you notes in each food pack demonstrating to NHS staff how grateful we all are.”