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Feeding the vulnerable – update

Univ Gabor Miszti

Gabor Miszti, Kitchen Porter

So, what was it I was saying about collaboration? Oh yes, it was that if everyone just does what they can, however small, collectively it can be huge, and it can make a very real difference. On Friday, 1 May, Univ’s Head and Sous Chefs, Paul and Matt, kept skilfully in line by kitchen porter Gabor, cooked off well over 100 meals for OMA and AGE UK, in conjunction with Dementia Oxfordshire, to restart a hot meal delivery to a group of elderly and vulnerable people in the community.

I who, of course, am biased, make no mention of the reception that these packaged meals received; instead I open an invitation to both OMA and Dementia Oxfordshire to let their diners tell you themselves.

Oxford homeless movement

What I will say is that in their selfless efforts, purposefully reopening their kitchens, and volunteering their time for others, I think our small team have managed to do something special that reaches beyond our walls. They have opened an opportunity for change and others have joined us in doing their bit. It isn’t the same bit as our bit, because one size doesn’t fit all, but it is achievable for them and makes a difference for us.

We speak often these days at Univ of being together, apart. Nothing is dividing us, not physical separation; our common purpose unites Univites wherever they find themselves. Yet now we are together, apart, with our friends and colleagues across the Colleges in a common purpose. Both Jesus College and Wadham College have pledged their backing to the cause our chefs are supporting.

“We had our first delivery of meals today, two microwaveable meals with veg, mash and meat. Instructions and use by dates were clear and the food looked very nutritious. Thank you so much for organizing this.”

We cannot take more volunteers in our kitchens, social distancing and our duty of care to our staff prohibit that. We can’t really take offers of supplies; quite rightly my chefs are determined to be certain of the provenance of everything they use. So, both Jesus and Wadham have offered exactly what OMA needs; funding. And we cannot thank them enough for their thoughtfulness and consideration and for their camaraderie in scaling up this effort.

Last week’s efforts produced Roast Chicken, Garlic and Thyme Roasted New Potatoes, Sage & Onion Stuffing, Mixed Vegetables & Gravy; Beef Chilli Con Carne, Long Grain Rice, Buttered Sweet Corn; Chicken & Vegetable Stew, Mashed Potatoes and Mixed Vegetables; Beef Bolognaise, Penne Pasta and Garlic Bread.

so miss being in College! And I think I can safely say our diners will eagerly look forward to next week’s efforts.

So, on Friday 1 May 2020 I hope something changed in Oxford. I know an opportunity was seized, we combined our efforts, we moved collectively, each doing what they could to make a lasting difference to our community. From Gabor, unsung hero of the Univ kitchens, bashing pans and scrubbing the kitchen until it shone, to those that collected and delivered the meals, to those who care every day for the old, the lonely and the vulnerable in our community, this community that has sustained the College and the University for generations past and yet to come, there is a debt of thanks here. And there is, again, opportunity. An opportunity for everyone to do something; if everyone does something, no one has to do everything.

“Thank you so much for organising the meals for my mum… the carer sent these pictures through. They look pretty good!”

When Paul first approached me to ask how he might be able to give something back, we spent a long time discussing the logistics of doing something; and no time at all discussing whether or why we should do it.

In the immortal words of Paul Moloney, Head Chef, University College; “It’s the right thing to do, isn’t it!”

Angela Unsworth, Domestic Bursar

Can you help?
If you are interested in helping Univ feed the City’s vulnerable at this time please email Angela.Unsworth@univ.ox.ac.uk

Published: 5 May 2020

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