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Birmingham Aston: The story so far…

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FoodCycle Birmingham relaunched at the end of April 2016. In this guest post, the Birmingham Aston Hub Leader team reflect on the first couple of weeks of setting up and running the Hub. The relaunch hasn’t always been easy, but they’ve had tonnes of fun, started to embed themselves within the community, and have already served 332 meals, using over 1 tonne of waste food!

Firstly, as a team we want to say a whopping great thank you to everybody who has been involved with the cooks so far.
Since the end of March we’ve had wonderfully enthusiastic teams of volunteers to help us cook and serve meals, and mingle with guests. It’s been fantastic to meet so many new faces and we hope to keep seeing you at our upcoming cooking sessions. We really couldn’t pull it off without you! So if you have some free time to volunteer over the summer, sign up here.

Without further ado, we would love to share our top 5 moments since starting up as a Hub just over 8 weeks ago…

Number 5: The Fire Alarm…

Before learning how to use the downstairs oven we did our baking upstairs, making sure that we constantly checked how it was going and only occasionally running up in a fit of panic when we remembered there was something still cooking!

One time we were a little too late…cue the deafening fire alarm resounding around the building with everyone searching for the ‘silence button’ and hoping the fire brigade didn’t show up for burnt crumble topping. Luckily they didn’t!

Number 4: The Collection

At the start we had a little difficulty communicating our message and gaining suppliers. Apparently the line ‘we want your fruit and vegetables but we aren’t going to pay for them’ isn’t always a winner. However, slowly but surely we managed to gain the trust of local suppliers.
One grocer in particular stood out. His name was Maaz and he was so enthusiastic about our cause but kept telling us to ‘come back tomorrow’. We kept thinking that the supposed ‘tomorrow’ would never come, until one day we arrived and Maaz had left 4 crates of fruit out for us, which made us all go slightly bananas! There is still banana bread in the freezer…

Number 3: The Rice ‘Pudding’

On our first Hub Leader cook we decided to do a stir-fry with rice. Now rice is a rather tricky thing to deliver. Luckily for us we had an expert rice-maker on hand, with culinary experience all the way from Japan. However what none of us quite realised was how low the highest hob temperature was when several other pans were cooking at once. So after a good 20 minutes we had a pot full of rice pudding-like stew with rice grains that were crunchy on the inside. We didn’t get our carbs that day but did have quite a few chuckles instead!

Number 2: The Banana Chocolate Lollies

Bank holiday weekend and a rather baking Sunday at the Settlement. We made chocolate coated banana chocolate lollies for dessert. Enough said!

Number 1: The First Guests!

Attracting the first guests proved tricky. Our flyers, noticeboard and posters didn’t have much impact in the first weeks, but then we decided to step outside and promote our meal right outside the settlement armed with takeaway boxes and some winning smiles!

And what a difference that made, the following week we had 10 sit down guests! Since then it’s been all hands on deck with families, individuals and friends coming along to sit down, chat and enjoy a nutritious meal. All the hard work really pays off when you see people from the community of all different backgrounds sit down together for a hot meal. And so far we’ve served 332 of them!

We can all agree that the team in Birmingham Aston are doing an incredible job. But to keep this Hub going from strength to strength, we need extra people to join the Hub Leader team. If you would like to join the team, run cooking sessions, and take responsibility for something like social media, or community outreach – drop an email to [email protected] today!

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