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Sheffield Children’s partners with Food Works and Sophie’s Legacy to provide affordable meals for families

One of our fabulous Just Meals
07 November 2023

We love to support our patients and families in new and exciting ways at Sheffield Children’s, but this fabulous project takes the cake!

Sheffield Children’s and Food Works have officially launched their joint ready meals project. After a successful four-week pilot period in May 2023, with funding from Sophie’s Legacy secured through the Children’s Hospital Alliance, freezers on each ward at our Sheffield Children’s Hospital site have been filled with local, sustainably sourced ready meals provided by Food Works.

In the first three months of the project, the team provided over 400 meals for our patient families, including offering vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, and low-allergen options. The project has already proven a hit, with one parent saying: “This is a brilliant idea! As a single parent with a low income, being in hospital for an extended stay can be tough. I’m so grateful for these meals- they have taken the financial strain away from us whilst we stay here. We can’t thank the team enough.”

Colleagues gather to cut some cake!

To celebrate the official launch, families and colleagues alike were treated to an array of cakes and sweet treats whilst learning all about the fabulous work taking place to help reduce the impact of health inequalities. John Williams, Deputy Chief Executive at Sheffield Children’s, said: “We’re so proud of this project and the opportunity to work with Food Works to create healthy food options within our Ward environments for families. It’s really wonderful to see this come to fruition, and to see the support that this has given to our patients and families during their time at Sheffield Children’s.”

There are two main goals of this collaboration: to reduce the cost of staying in hospital for the families of our children and young people and to make it easier for all to access sustainable and healthy meals when staying with us. With this in mind, Just Meals are offered to our patients and families on a pay-what-you-can basis. This approach was chosen to further improve financial accessibility for all of our families, giving them the option to make a contribution of their choice to Food Works.

Sarah Baker, Improvement Project Manager at Sheffield Children’s, said: “After speaking directly with a number of our patients and families, we saw that there was an opportunity to develop a service that would support our Sheffield Children’s community. No family should go hungry whilst staying with us, and so we did everything that we could to get this project off the ground. Our partnership with Food Works has created an accessible, affordable option for the families of our children and young people at mealtimes and gives them the option to donate to a fantastic cause!”

Funding for the initial four-week pilot was provided by Sophie’s Legacy after being secured through the Children’s Hospital Alliance, a group of specialist NHS trusts across the UK collaborating in service of improving access and quality of hospital care for children, young people, and families. Sophie’s Legacy is a charity that supports children and families throughout their stay in hospital settings by focusing on the wishes of Sophie, a remarkable young girl who sadly passed away in September 2021. One of these wishes was to improve the food offerings for patients and families staying in hospital settings. With the help of Food Works, our amazing team have set out to do just that.

Food Works is an organisation based in Sheffield specialising in upcycling food products to create sustainable meals for the local community. Alongside their goal of producing no waste in their operations, they also aim to build support networks in our community by connecting with a variety of organisations across South Yorkshire.

As part of their mission to create food from quality surplus and locally grown ingredients, they have created ‘Just Meals’, a range of environmentally friendly frozen ready meals. Created locally in Sheffield using sustainable practices, Just Meals are a great food-waste-free alternative to a conventional ready meal. Each meal is also packaged in 100% biodegradable and home compostable packaging, further decreasing their carbon footprint.

The work of the team has even caught the attention of Dame Rachel De Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England, who learnt of the project during her recent visit to Sheffield Children’s Hospital. She said: “It was a pleasure to visit Sheffield Children’s Hospital recently, and to hear more about their Food Works programme. As Children’s Commissioner, I have heard from so many families how important it is to receive support in their community, which is why schemes like these are so invaluable. I was really impressed by the programme’s commitment to providing nutritious and sustainable meals to those in need, and hope that it goes some way to making families and patients’ experience of hospital all the more positive.”

We love to find new ways in which to support our children and families at Sheffield Children’s and are proud of the work completed by this team.

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