A generous mum has opened up a soup kitchen from her own home, cooking up to 80 meals a day for vulnerable people.
Sophie Mears, from Bridport in Dorset, has been spending 10 hours a day cooking free food parcels for people who are unable to leave their homes during the pandemic.
However, the 33-year-old good Samaritan’s act of kindness almost came to a halt when council officials said she needed a food hygiene certificate, and they could not visit to carry out an inspection because of the current health crisis.
However, Sophie begged and pleaded with the authorities and they eventually agreed to a ‘virtual inspection’, which she passed with flying colours, earning herself a five-star food rating while also meaning vulnerable and elderly members of her community could be fed once again.
The mum-of-four, who usually works in admin at a local school, began working from home when the current social distancing measures started, but wanted to help those in need during these times.
She joined her local Facebook community support group, and when someone said a family was in need of a meal she volunteered to help.
Now, Sophie has a whole support team behind her. She has someone dedicated to going through the messages on social media to make sure everybody that needs meals gets them, her partner Gary organises and bags the meals for delivery and they have a team of up to eight volunteers delivering the food.
It started a few weeks ago, somebody said there was a family in need of a meal so I provided a few bits for them and it just grew from there. Now I’m cooking a roast dinner for 80!
My kitchen is not massive, it’s just a normal family kitchen. I’ve got several slow cookers so I have those going through the night and then in the mornings I do the bits I can’t do in the slow cookers.
My garage has turned into a storage area with a couple of fridges and a chest freezer; people have just been amazing with donating all sorts.
Locals have donated food and money to help cover her costs making hearty meals like soups, stews, chilli, lamp hotpot and cottage pie.
She uses several slow cookers to do a lot of the bulk cooking and then finishes off the bits that can’t be done in slow cookers on the hob and in the oven.
And she says her children – Charlie and Connor, both nine, Jacob, eight and four-year-old Evelyn – have all been great at getting on with schoolwork or playing quietly to allow her enough time to do the cooking.
I have worked in catering in pubs and restaurants before and I’ve always enjoyed cooking.
I’ve quite enjoyed finding new things to cook and I’ve learnt to do vegan and vegetarian too.
The support has just been unbelievable and it just fills my heart with joy to know when I sit down at night for a meal with my family, I’ve been able to help somebody else have that too.
With help from family and donations from other members of the community, Sophie is now churning out between 60 and 80 meals a day, completing around 30 deliveries.
‘I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special, just cooking,’ she said.
What an absolute hero.
It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.
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