Taybridgehead pilots food sharing project

Cook Maureen and diner John enjoy each other's company.
Cook Maureen and diner John enjoy each other's company.

Taybridgehead has become the first community in Fife to pilot an innovative scheme that connects keen cooks with their older neighbours.

Funding is in place for the next six months to operate the Meal Makers project, part of the Scottish charity Food Train, founded some 22 years ago.

The idea is that volunteers who sign up for Meal Makers prepare an extra portion of food when cooking the family meal and take it to an older member in their own community who they’ve been matched with.

It means the recipient not only gets a nutritious meal but also much-needed company.

The Meal Makers project was launched in Dundee in 2014 and since then more than 7000 meals have been shared in various parts of Scotland.

There are almost 400 volunteers in Edinburgh alone.

When Tayport community councillor Derek Gray happened to hear project leader project leader Emma Black talking about Meal Makers on the radio one morning, he contacted her to ask if the idea could be tried out in his home town.

“We started off in a small way because we didn’t have funding at that stage,” said Emma.

“Derek did all the leg work, such as putting up leaflets, then in April we were successful in securing some fundingto expand the pilot to the entire Taybridgehead ward for the next six months.

“After that we will try to secure funding to roll the scheme out to the whole of Fife.”

Emma explained: “We use an online platform to connect volunteers of any age who have a passion for cooking and want to be active in their communities (cooks), with older neighbours over the age of 55 (diners) who would appreciate a delicious home cooked meal from a friendly neighbour.

“Once a cook and diner have been matched the cook will prepare an extra meal and deliver it to their diner at a time agreed by both parties.

“Meal shares can occur as often as the cook and diner would like, so it might be weekly, fortnightly or just now and again.

“The project aims to tackle the problems of both malnutrition and isolation among older people.

“Often the diners look forward to the visit more than the meal itself.”

Among the first to sign up for the project in Tayport was cook Jennifer Foster, who’s been matched with diner Ian, a pensioner living alone.

The pair usually spend about 45 minutes together and Ian really appreciates Jennifer’s good home cooking.

“It’s good of Jen to come round and I enjoy chatting with her,” said Ian.

“I love her curries and chilli – she’s a great cook.”

For more information, visit www.mealmakers.org.uk.