News release from 22/12/2020

Christmas dinner on the menu for almost 1,000 vulnerable and older people

Packing up meals at the C3 warehouse

An early Santa delivery in South Cambridgeshire tomorrow will see almost 1,000 traditional festive turkey dinners delivered to the most in-need families and vulnerable and elderly residents across the District.

The mammoth operation, which has been in the planning for just a few weeks, will swing into action in the morning (Wednesday 23 December) and is funded with money from DEFRA and the Government’s Winter Support Grant administered by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Of the meals delivered, 880 will be cooked by the C3 Church group and sent out to 41 villages across the district. 122 of those meals will be for families with children under 18 and the rest for older residents who may not otherwise have a Christmas dinner. They will be in frozen form for reheating on Christmas Day.

103 more meals will be sent out from the Over Day Centre where a cook-chill meals delivery service has been operating during the pandemic for residents in the villages of Over, Bar Hill, Caldecote, Cottenham, Hardwick, Harston, Longstanton, Swavesey and Willingham.

C3, which runs a smaller scale meal scheme for the District Council throughout the year, has hired in more chefs who would otherwise not have been working due to Covid restrictions. It has topped up paid-for working hours with voluntary hours in a 50-50 split, while the Council has helped with additional equipment.

Two of the chefs involved were out-of-work having previously been self-employed in the entertainment industry, while many willing volunteers are giving up hours of their time to get the meals cooked, frozen, boxed and ready for delivery (as pictured above).

All the produce has been sourced locally, with three of the four major providers being companies based in the District, and all of which would have suffered some level of hardship during the pandemic, so the scheme has benefitted those businesses and their employees as well as local residents.

They are:

  • Big Happy Thoughts from Linton, a local cake company supplying the desserts
  • Kale & Damson from Papworth, supplying the vegetables
  • Cambridge City-based Malloy’s Craft Butchery, supplying the meat.

The refrigerated transport is being provided by Freezer Van Hire Alley Cat Rentals, based in Babraham.

Six South Cambridgeshire District Council employees have volunteered to deliver the meals from C3 out to village hubs on the day, and from there local volunteer groups will deliver to individual households. 

Councillor Bill HandleyCouncillor Bill Handley

Cllr Bill Handley (above), South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Community Resilience, Health and Wellbeing, said: “The meals scheme with C3 has all been organised in an extremely short space of time, and everyone has really pulled together to make it happen. I don’t think any of us expected it to be this big and our staff have done a marvellous job in bringing it all together, while everyone at C3, the local volunteers and everyone else involved have been so generous with their time and effort. The Over Day Centre’s food scheme is also pulling out the stops for an extra special lunch for Christmas week and we thank them so much for that. It has been such a difficult year for everyone, and due to the restrictions and the need to self-isolate, many elderly and vulnerable residents might be on their own, while some families with children may find it difficult to afford a Christmas dinner; so this is a really important gesture.”

Becky Campbell, Development Manager for C3 Impact, said: “It really has been a privilege to be involved in the Christmas meal scheme with South Cambs Council. It wouldn’t have been possible without fantastic volunteers, hardworking staff and brilliant local suppliers. Together we have achieved an incredible feat and we hope this goes in some way to bring the wonder of Christmas into people’s homes; to bring joy to what has been a difficult year for so many. We are looking forward to working together again across the community, business sector and council in 2021.”