A fleet of ice cream-style vans could soon be delivering healthy ‘takeaway’ meal kits to families in Thanet.
The proposal is the latest brainwave from the driving force behind this year’s Summer Kitchen scheme which fed scores of families for free during the school holidays from bases at Drapers Mills primary and St Christopher’s Church in Newington.
Sharon Goodyer, who created Our Kitchen On The Isle Of Thanet, in 2017, is making it her mission for Thanet to ‘feed itself better’ with cheap but healthy meals that are easy to cook
The kits, which cost £2, include a stir fry bag with veg, sauces, noodles, peanut butter and cardboard carton cups to eat it from ‘takeaway’ style. Each kit contains enough to feed four people and the idea is for vans to visit housing estates and other areas across the isle so people can easily buy them.
Sharon, 67, said: “All meals, such as the stir fry or savoury macaroni, have 80g of veg. The takeaway pots are one of the little things that are key to making it a success. The children like them, they mean you eat and there isn’t a pile of washing up, it is suiting the meals to real lifestyles.
“Instead of a microwave meal, filled with cornflour starch, this is healthy, easy to cook and familiar. For the mums who say fresh veg is expensive, heavy to carry and time-consuming to prepare, this has the veg from a fresh source and ready prepared. Most families have 9-10 meals that they cook again and again and I am trying to give that range of meals not something they will only try once.
“I am working with farms and gleaners, so it is real local food. The food industry has gone wrong, the food is expensive and it’s not good for us. I am trying to teach people about healthy eating in a way that links with their real lives.”
A business plan for the van venture is being drawn up to put to potential funders.
Mum-of-three Sharon, from Ramsgate, says the van scheme and work in schools teaching parents about healthy cooking is just one part of a growing movement in Thanet to make sure people can eat properly.
The former secondary school teacher said: “There is Annie Nicholls with Bags of Taste, Kate Lees has Make It With Kate and Ann Newstead with The Kitchen CT9. We are all using our kitchens to work in different ways and it is the beginning of change and it is beginning to build.
“There is now a really vibrant start to the food scene in Thanet.”
A bigger Summer Kitchen scheme
Next year Sharon plans to run up to six Summer Kitchens during the school holidays.
During this year’s summer holidays Sharon launched the scheme at Drapers Mills school and St Christopher’s Church in Newington.
The scheme provided free meals, both eat in and takeaway, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, throughout the school holidays.
Thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, it was 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 councillors Barry Lewis and Karen Constantine.
Sharon had a team of four professionals and a small army of volunteers helping out in the project which was funded by Cllr Lewis and Cllr Constantine.
During the scheme some 1,642 meals were served.
Next year five or six kitchens will be put in place at venues across the isle. These will be announced, along with details for how to sign up as a volunteer, in January.
Thrre are also plans for a Christmas and New Year kitchen at Drapers Mills School. These will be one off coffee/tea and cake events with meal kits and a free shop available. The first event is due to be held on December 17 from 8.30am.
Where it began
Sharon set up Our Kitchen On The Isle Of Thanet in July 2017, initially from the former Cliffsend Village Stores and now based in Ramsgate.
The kitchen 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.
Sharon was a teacher for 26 years until she was forced to leave education in 2000 because she had 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.
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.”
Sharon 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.
Sharon was prompted shelve retirement and set up the kitchen scheme after hearing a mum on a bus tell her child tea would be hotdogs and alphabet potato shapes. Sharon said: “That meal is about 50p per head. It’s ok but you can’t always feed kids like that and expect them to be alert. The kitchen helps with healthy, good meals that are affordable and easy to cook.”