The Big NHS Lunch box providing free lunches to frontline staff in Greater Manchester

A group of friends who wanted to do their bit to help those on the front line have handed out more than 11,000 lunches to ensure workers can eat while they battle Covid-19. 

Paddy Doyle, Rob and Natalie Garbutt of Lunar Green Ltd set up The Big NHS Lunch Box aimed at a lunch to healthcare workers who may otherwise not stop to get one. After ploughing in £4,000 to get the scheme going, they enlisted friends Rachael and Liam King, who own two Subway franchises, to help them prepare and deliver the lunches across Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

Since the scheme began donations have flooded in with more than £33,000 raised – the equivalent of 11,000 Subway lunches. 

Mr Garbutt said: “It has been a real journey for us. Back in March we saw in the media the NHS frontline working around the clock doing amazing things at the hospitals when the pandemic began and they just were not getting lunch, so we put two and two together with Liam and Rachel who offered to open up their kitchens to us and we are now doing 500 subs a day.”

Wife Natalie reached out to other parents in the school’s WhatsApp group asking for donations and spoke to those of them who worked in the NHS to ensure the donations went where they were needed. 

The scheme has been so successful it has now expanded to The Big Care Home Lunch Box, with eight homes across Greater Manchester benefiting from the free food. 

Tatton MP Esther McVey heard of the initiative as one of the Subway franchises is Wilmslow in her constituency. She spoke with the friends via a Zoom call to thank them for the work they had done.

Ms McVey said: “It was absolutely wonderful to meet the team behind the Big NHS Lunch Box as it is such an amazing initiative. These are people in the community going above and beyond and getting out there and helping people in the most difficult time many of us have ever lived through.

“Covid-19 is terrible and has devastated the lives of families across the country who are grieving the loss of loved ones, but at the same time the love and kindness of so many people also shine through in our communities.

"I was delighted to have had the chance to speak to the group and say thank you on behalf of everyone for the wonderful work they are doing. If you can give time or some money to help this wonderful cause I know they, and I am sure all the healthcare workers getting fed every day, would be so grateful.”

Mr and Mrs King, who get up early to ensure they can prepare all the food are supported by volunteers in the kitchen and out on the road delivering the lunches. 

Mrs King said: “I think initially we started about 200 sandwiches a day and it has grown and grown and the most we have done is 700 sandwiches in one day.

"As the shop is not open and we are not trading it is actually quite a lot easier, it is a lot of bread to bake, a lot of cookies to bake but it has been really good fun and we have been really fortunate with people volunteering their time to help me come in and make the sandwiches.

"Also, drivers that have come and volunteered their time to deliver the sandwiches as we are delivering to hospitals, care homes, in total 13 different places and it does take a lot of work logistically to get the deliveries out.”


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