The final Summer Kitchen at Drapers Mills school, and St Christopher’s Church in Newington, will be celebrated on Monday (August 27) with a hog roast.
The community kitchen scheme has provided free meals, both eat in and takeaway, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, throughout the school holidays.
The kitchen runs from 5pm until 9pm.
Thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, it has been run by Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet with Drapers Mills school, Get Out Get Active (GOGA) Thanet, Fareshare, Asda, Windmill Allotments, Geoff Philpott’s farm, Your Leisure and county councillor Barry Lewis.
Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet boss Sharon Goodyer has a team of four professionals and a small army of volunteers helping out in the project which has been funded to the tune of £5,000 by Cllr Lewis and fellow councillor Karen Constantine.
All meals provided are made of fresh, often locally-sourced ingredients and are healthy as well as nutritious.
During the scheme some 1,642 meals have been served.
Sharon said: “It has been unbelievable. The community absolutely grabbed this and made it their own. That first night when no-one showed, and let’s face it people here are made so many promises that aren’t delivered, was terrifying but we said ‘ok, we are just going to do it again,’ and they came.
“The brilliant thing is mums have told me the money they saved on food has been used to pay other pressing bills. That’s brilliant and proves that they aren’t bad at management they just do not have enough to stretch”
Sharon was joined at either the Margate or Newington – which had food delivered from Drapers Mills – venues every night by district councillor Jenny Matterface, county councillors Barry Lewis and Karen Constantine and Thanet local Steve Albon who headed up the St Christopher’s deliveries.
Sharon said: “The Summer kitchen was a blast. The local politicians were smashing and also had all that time to get to know residents and talk to them. It has been exhausting but brilliant and we will be doing it all again next year.”
The plan is to roll out the Summer scheme next year to more schools. Sharon will also be chasing funding which was due to have come through the Street Games organisation via a £2million government pot to provide Summer meals and exercise schemes.
She said: “I don’t think Thanet got enough of that money which we wanted to help provide exercise and fun through this Summer. It is something I will be chasing for next year as Thanet should not be going under the radar.”
The plan to feed Thanet does not end with the final Summer Kitchen of the year. Two Food Link schemes will be set up by Sharon in Dane Valley and Newington which will provide fresh food but also offer cooking training and advice on using the cheapest, seasonal ingredients to make ends meet but still eat healthily.
On top of this there will be support from Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet to help people set up food micro businesses.
Sharon said: “We are building a simple , easy, economical, supportive way for people who want to set up a food micro business. There will be no charges for any help or advice. If people have an idea that others want to buy that also supports our good health – instead of giving us diabetes and heart disease and making our children obese – we think it will be worth supporting.
“Examples could be children’s birthday parties, no-one does screaming parties with decent food anymore. There is also a huge market for fixed price food events, like roast dinners for a fiver. We will offer a bit of training in building block sessions, how to understand the food industry and realising the needs and wants in your local community. Because I have been in the industry I can help people quickly to set up their micro business.”
Anyone with a business idea can drop Sharon a line via Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet
There are also plans to open up eight shops in high streets and housing estates across Thanet discussions with NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), about opening up the kitchen as part of planned isle health hubs.
Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet
The kitchen, based at the former Cliffsend Village Stores, offers meals ranging from 70p, £1.40 and chef’s specials at around £4. It also holds pop up sessions across Thanet.
All meals are low in salt, sugar and saturated fats, concentrating on using local veg and fruit.
Labelling on the reusable pots is limited to reduce the amount of environmental waste but each is accompanied by a leaflet with the recipe and supplier details.
The business was opened by Sharon, a former head teacher and businesswoman, last year when she came out of retirement in a bid to get the isle eating well.
Sharon was a head teacher for 26 years until she was forced to leave education in 2000 because of Parkinson’s disease.
It was then that she took her first venture in the food industry selling old-fashioned sponge cakes on Kent market stalls. Within three years Sharon’s business had a turnover of £5million, three shifts of employees and contracts that amounted to 10,000 cakes a day.
During that time Sharon also provided 400 cakes for the Skoda Fabia TV advert where a team of people transformed the cakes into a life-size replica of the new Skoda.
Sharon said: “Everyone had turned Skoda down – even Jamie Oliver – when asked to provide the cakes but my default answer is yes because that’s how it is in education, so I did it.”
When the recession hit Sharon lost everything. She said: “I was an inexperienced businesswoman and the bank didn’t give me time to move the factory into a different product so I lost it all. I didn’t go bankrupt and everyone got paid but I lost everything.”
The mum-of-two spent several months sofa surfing while saving up enough money to start again.
And she did, setting up a new business selling Bar15 – a no added sugar cereal bar with 15 natural ingredients.
With more business experience that venture was a success which Sharon eventually sold on before retiring.
Last year the 67-year-old came out of retirement to set up Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet.