Southdown's pop-up Food Order and Delivery Service

Food Delivery Service

Since the global coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the national lockdown, we have worked hard to shield our Learning Disability Support Services. Unfortunately this meant that our clients were not able to continue with their community visits and weekly supermarket shops.

As a response to these big changes, Southdown’s Central Services and Community Support Services staff volunteered to help our Learning Disability Support Services access necessary food supplies with the creation of a temporary Food Order and Delivery Service.

Jeanette Farmer, Southdown’s Facilities and Project Officer, led the project and explains how they did it, 

“As someone who usually grocery shops with a rucksack and dog waiting outside, I had no idea of what was to come when I was asked to set up the Southdown version of Ocado back at the beginning of lockdown. 

Supermarkets were in meltdown, but thanks to the catering wholesale account that supplies the client café at Preston Park Recovery Centre in Brighton and Hove, we had access to the kind of volumes of food needed by Southdown’s 32 Learning Disability services. 

While a team continued to supply nearby services from there, we set up a second account at Southdown’s Head Office in Lewes for the rest and soon cages of supplies were rolling in. 

Over the past 12 weeks we have sent out around 17 sacks of spuds; 250 tins of beans; 55 kilos of cheese and over 1300 yoghurts. We’ve managed requests for goat’s cheese, rice milk and chicken sausages, sent out Easter treats and worked around the national shortages of loo roll, flour and the current one of marmite. 

A great team of volunteer drivers delivered our boxes and hastily purchased freezer bags across the county. 

Multi-tasking for the ‘new normal’ has been usual practice for just about everyone.”

Tara Mackintosh, Southdown’s Quality and Performance Manager, took over management of the Preston Park Recovery Centre food delivery site after it was established. She adds,

"The food service has been challenging, but also very enjoyable and it has been great to feel like we have been doing something that has directly helped the services.

It has been really nice working with people you don’t normally work with and special mention to Don the Chef who had his kitchen taken over at very short notice and has been helping out all through the time we have been there. 

We learnt some lessons along the way, particularly getting fresh fruit and veg from a grocer rather than the wholesaler and working out which drivers do which orders based on the size of their cars.  We’ve also, latterly, been delivering PPE alongside the food and household goods and this has worked generally very well I think.

The services have been really accommodating and understanding when we haven’t been able to get them exactly what they have ordered and a big thanks to them for that.  Equally, our Executive team have been extremely supportive and understanding, especially at the start when we were on a very steep learning curve."

Over the coming weeks, we will be moving away from using the temporary Food Order and Delivery Service and will be looking to see if our individual Learning Disability Support Services can begin to order food supplies online or through click and collect. 

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everybody involved in setting up and delivering the food. It has been an amazing team effort across the organisation and across the county.