Lottery funding and gourmet Christmas meals for local charity

General Manager Michelle Dron and Client Food Distribution Supervisor Jamie Critchlow serving up the gourmet Country Casserole for clients to try at The Matthew Tree Project on Filwood Broadway.

A Knowle West-based charity has just been awarded £94,000 by The Big Lottery Fund to increase its food distribution operation – which includes gourmet meals in time for Christmas.

The funding will help The Matthew Tree Project (TMTP) – which runs a food bank from Filwood Broadway – to handle the growing volume of food collected and redistributed in the region.

TMTP’s Rebuilding Lives provides emergency crisis support and a range of services for individuals and families – many at risk of homelessness.

The charity, which currently gives out around 4,500 meals a week, is also the first in the city to provide a range of festive food – partridge curry and pheasant casserole.

The first delivery of just over 1,000 gourmet meals were received by TMTP this month (November). The dishes are unique recipes created by TV chef Tim Maddams, centred around game.

The Country Trust collects the game, which would otherwise go to waste, and turns it into nutritiously balanced, tasty meals – delivering the finished product to charities around the UK, to give to people in need.

Founder of TMTP, Mark Goodway, said the lottery funding would allow the charity to “underpin all of (its) city-wide food logistics operations for many years to come”.

He said: “We have outgrown our present food distribution hub, and desperately needed more space and better equipment to enable us to safely sort and handle the food we are kindly given.

“The quality and range of foods we are now providing is quite amazing; from chilled to frozen to fresh to packets and tins to gourmet meals…

“This new arrangement with The Country Food Trust has come at a very opportune time. Recently we have seen the numbers of people and families coming to us for help sharply increase… having enough food on the shelves to meet the rising demand is our biggest challenge.”

This imaginative way of introducing a new food type has been highly successful with people using the food bank.

One user commented: “I was really surprised how tasty the casserole was and will definitely choose it each week now.”

In addition to the new Distribution Centre, TMTP has recently purchased a 7.5t MAN lorry, which will enable the crisis support services to reach new areas of need in the city and region.

The charity is now inviting ‘expressions of interest’ from potential new partners to work with them on the delivery of ‘Rebuilding Lives’ from April 2018 – with training and systems provided as well as food supplies.

For more information visit www.thematthewtreeproject.org, email info@the-matthew-tree-project.org or call 0117 966 8071.