Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - 11:45

An award-winning company set up by chefs from the Eden Project to lessen food poverty in Cornwall is heading to France to help refugees there.

The community interest company Keep Cornwall Fed (KCF) was established in 2016 by Stuart Millard and Mike Greer while they were both working at Eden and has since provided more than 3,000 free meals for people in the county.

Stuart has left Eden to work full-time for KCF while Mike joins him regularly outside of the hours he works at Eden.

Later this month (January 2018) Stuart is travelling with another Eden and KCF chef Kalum Rowden to the Calais area for five days to link up with an organisation called Refugee Community Kitchen, which helps feed refugees in and around the northern France city.

Eden is supporting the journey which will see Stuart and Kalum offering their cooking skills over five days to the big effort to feed people in desperate circumstances.

Stuart said: “The situation in and around Calais has been calling out to us. We kept seeing notices on social media saying that chefs are urgently needed. We want to do what we can over there and we are sure we will learn more from this experience about how we can help people here at home too.”

He added: “Eden has been great to us since day one and we are grateful for the support which is enabling us to go to France.”

KCF was set up with the bold aim of ending food poverty in Cornwall.

The chefs, who all live in the St Austell area, say that seven million tonnes of food and drink is thrown away every year from homes in the UK and more than half of this could be eaten. At the same time there are around eight million people in the UK living in food poverty.

Mike, Stuart, Kalum and the rest of the team work alongside suppliers, including a local butcher, greengrocer, supermarkets, food charities and garden projects, to use food that would otherwise go to waste.

Using their converted horsebox to get around, they run pop-up restaurants and bespoke catering services in locations across Cornwall and then use the profits to cook healthy hot meals for people who would otherwise be going hungry.

KCF have a number of ways to reach people, working with organisations such as DISC (Drop in and Share Centre) in Newquay, St Austell Community Kitchen, Wadebridge Food Bank and Fourways Youth Centre in St Blazey.

Stuart said: “For every meal we sell commercially we promise to donate a healthy hot meal to someone in food poverty. In 2017 we made 3,300 free meals for people in Cornwall. The target this year is 5,000 and I’m confident we will reach that.”

Typically they will pre-cook a soup or stew and bag it into meal-sized portions so it can be distributed to people most in need.

The company was recently recognised with the Best Managed Micro Business Award at the Cornwall Sustainability Awards.

Stuart said: “We have learned so much in the last year about how to help feed those who need it the most. Refugee Community Kitchen are doing a similar job to us but on a massive scale. They cook 1,500 meals a day.

“The Jungle Camp in Calais has been broken up so refugees are living under bridges and in woods. We want to see how things are done over there and that will help us be better at what we do in Cornwall.”

Eden Project Chief Executive Gordon Seabright said: “While they were both working together at Eden, Stuart and Mike had this great idea to offer help where it is greatly needed, to lessen food poverty and reduce waste.

“They have made that idea a reality and now with Kalum and others they are making a big difference here in Cornwall. We have been happy to help them get up and running, and to support their mission to France.”