by Katy Gough, formerly Deputy Manager for Provision at the Wild Goose
On a typical day by 8.30am, Mike, one of the Wild Goose’s volunteer van drivers, arrives at Costco to collect the surplus food, which they donate to us on a daily basis. We regularly receive fresh meat, vegetables, salads, fruit, bread and cakes from them. Meanwhile Jonnie, the Wild Goose Manager, shops for instant coffee and sugar, two items that we get through in high volumes. Our service users are looking forward to porridge, which Jean, our resident cook, is preparing. She is also wondering what food will arrive. Most of it will be on its use by date. When the deliveries reach the centre, Jean will quickly prepare a menu for lunch and the evening meal.
By 10am, the team are gathered for prayer, giving thanks for the food we will receive. When we need extra items, FareShare, who redistribute in date surplus food to charities, can often provide things such as butter, cheese and ham for us. We also receive sandwiches from Friska and Pret a Manger on a daily basis. When we receive too much fresh food that we cannot use that day, we share it with other charities working with vulnerable people, such as Emmaus and Borderlands.
Individuals, churches, schools and businesses generously support us with food donations, particularly at harvest time. Some things on our harvest and ‘always need’ list may surprise you, as they are ones we don’t receive from our deliveries. These items make a big difference to our service users: jam, peanut butter and marmite for breakfast, dried lentils and tinned tomatoes for healthy stews and curries, dried herbs, spices, and black pepper for flavour, along with tomato ketchup and brown sauce. We also regularly need to buy instant coffee, sugar, washing-up liquid, cling film, greaseproof paper and foil; these food donations allow us to spend our finances elsewhere where they are most needed.
The food that comes in from many different sources allows us to show God’s love and care to our service users every day. Shared meals create a valuable sense of community, and provide an opportunity for Esther (Deputy Manager for Engagement) and her team to build relationships and provide them with help.
The Wild Goose provides hundreds of meals each day to those who are homeless and in poverty. It is hard work, but we know what a difference it makes when we receive thank you notes from our clients, such as one saying ‘Thanks for looking after us when we can’t look after ourselves. We leave here with full bellies alive and kicking…Surely this is proof of God’s love in the world?’ Another client wrote to us: ‘The Goose is a real hope to lots of people, it keeps people ALIVE! It stops me from stealing from supermarkets. The food is delicious. I look forward to eating and it gives me routine and keeps me healthy.’
Knowing where their next meal comes from gives our service users the stability to engage with their other needs, such as housing or tackling addiction. We give thanks for all those who provide food for the Wild Goose, which helps lives to be sustained and transformed.
If you'd like to support us by donating food, please visit our Harvest appeal page.
Katy Gough was previously Deputy Manager for Provision at the Wild Goose Café. She is now an ordinand at Trinity College.