Kosher food providers help feed frontline NHS workers
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Kosher food providers help feed frontline NHS workers

GP Sharon Raymond galvanised team of more than 40 volunteers to ferry hot food and pastries to doctors and nurses battling coronavirus

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

From Bonjour bakery to the Royal Free, the community is helping to feed NHS frontline workers!
From Bonjour bakery to the Royal Free, the community is helping to feed NHS frontline workers!

Two major kosher food providers are supplying meals to Jewish and non-Jewish NHS staff, as medics gear up for the toughest phase of the pandemic.

Kosher Deli and Bonjour bakery have joined a campaign to feed hungry frontline workers, in an effort coordinated by Hendon GP Dr Sharon Raymond.

She has arranged for 100 kosher meals a week to be delivered to intensive care and A&E units at the Royal Free and Barnet General hospitals, with more hospitals in the pipeline.

Doctors and nurses she had spoken to, said they were “struggling a bit when it comes to getting food on long shifts”, as cases surge amid a rapidly-spreading new variant of coronavirus.

Swinging into action, she recruited Kosher Deli, which is providing 100 meals to the two hospitals, and Bonjour, with a crack team of more than 40 volunteers ferrying food to the two hospitals, organised through WhatsApp.

She said: “I thought it would be nice to have an initiative where the Jewish community is donating food to everyone, no matter what their faith, or no faith”.

The GP, who has so far raised £116,000 as part of her Covid Crisis Rescue Foundation to source PPE (personal protective equipment) for NHS staff, called on the community to get involved in her initiative.

Staff at the Royal Free receive pastries from Bonjour kosher bakery

“We’ve got lots of lovely restaurants and cafes that are kosher. We’d welcome anyone, any organisation, any kosher eatery that wants to donate food.

“I’m sure anyone and everyone will be really delighted to partake of that food, bearing in mind that it’s not that easy, particularly in the evenings to get hold of it”

“When you’re on a long shift, and you’re in your PPE all day, it’s very difficult”, she said.

She said Anat Abraham from Bonjour is donating food five nights a week from both her Hendon and Borehamwood branches, while Kosher Deli is providing 100 hot meals, including chicken, schnitzels, meatballs and more, every week.

Dr Sharon Raymond

Speaking to Jewish News, Jack Bendahan, district manager at Kosher Deli said: “We’re looking for other organisations or restaurants, if they can afford to sponsor 10 meals, or even once a week. It doesn’t have to be 150 people that we’re doing for.”

Bendahan, who has shops across London and Manchester, said the meals, which are for all NHS staff, are also Halal, allowing Muslim doctors and nurses to eat them.  He said frontline NHS staff “don’t have time to prepare a meal” when they finish their shift and many are “eating garbage, like chocolate and chips” as a result. “That’s our biggest concern – and we have to do something about it.”

Food deliveries for NHS workers at Barnet and the Royal Free

He joined the initiative as “a human response to the situation. When we have a crisis, we all have to be united”, despite financial pressures of the pandemic.  He said “ of course, “it costs money. Today, we lost a lot of business” but added, as long as the community “keeps on supporting Kosher Deli, then we can support these doctors who are eating garbage instead of eating a nutritional meal.”

Anat from Bonjour said between 80-100 borekas and danishes had been donated. She got involved, saying: “I had Corona last March and I was sick for two months. I understand and appreciate all the efforts that are being done to save people’s lives, so I feel happy and obligated to assist as much as I can”.

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