Birmingham Repertory Theatre is using its kitchen during closure to provide 1,500 nutritional meals a week to children in poverty across the city.
The theatre has partnered with the Open Kitchens initiative, to cover an initial six-week period, which will see more than 9,000 meals prepared.
The Rep, and its popular restaurant Marmalade, are closed due to the ongoing restrictions as a result of Covid-19. However, after the government issued advice allowing theatres to open their doors on the condition of no live performances, it was able to access its kitchens.
The theatre will receive one tonne of surplus food each week from across the food industry, including supermarkets, manufacturers and the hospitality sector.
Meals will then be prepared in the Rep’s kitchens by volunteers from the theatre’s bar and restaurant team, lead by head chef Dario Pinho. Meals will then be distributed free of charge by Open Kitchens’ partner organisation Fareshare, which provides a network of charitable food redistributors.
Jules Raikes, catering director at the Rep, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to open up our kitchens for such a worthy cause during a time when a lot of families will be struggling financially. Thousands of children in the city have been schooled at home during the pandemic, which also means for some that they have been missing out on vital access to free school dinners.”
Adam Roberts, founder of Open Kitchens, said the Rep was the first theatre in the UK to join the scheme.
Raikes added; “Thanks to our partnership with Open Kitchens and our incredible team of Rep volunteers, we are now preparing meals from food that would otherwise go to waste, providing vulnerable children with a regular free nutritional meal during these unprecedented times.”
The Rep’s team of volunteers will be working to government guidelines, with social distancing in place. Temperature checks and steam cleaning will be carried out on a regular basis and the theatre said staff would be working in bubbles to ensure safety and to allow work to continue should someone become ill.