Lincoln Russet responds to Covid-19

NHS we’ve got you #meals #grassfed # beef #happytummy #support #local #community #Lincolnshire

This came up in my Instagram feed, and I felt moved to find out more. 

When the restaurants were all forced to close their doors at the end of March, Amy Jobe – a fourth generation Lincolnshire beef farmer from Elkington near Louth – suddenly found herself with 3 months worth of beef with no-where to go.

So this is where we suddenly found ourselves: a five star hygiene rated kitchen; a load of exceptional quality beef; and a woman who can cook! An NHS where staff work long shifts, putting themselves and their families personally at risk to look after our friends, our family, our neighbours. 

“The meals came about because I can.” 

Amy Jobe

Amy was quick to make the connections. A friend’s Mum worked at Louth hospital. The following day, her colleagues were able to take home a cottage pie for their tea after their hospital shift – freshly home-made with top quality, grassfed, local beef. A time-saving, belly-filling, heart-warming Thank You!

Food connections

It’s not an easy option. Amy is a mum, home-educating two children, while working on the farm and spending many hours delivering meat boxes. (By the way, you can contact Amy if you’re interested in getting a local meat box from Lincoln Russet: they’re also available further afield with a local courier.) 

But Amy reflects: “Everyone is in a pickle. If everyone does a little bit, it makes a difference.” 

I guess most of us have never cooked a cow and a half at the end of a busy day, but when someone starts a thing like this, it instantly creates more possibilities for others to help in their own way. 

For example, Amy has also been donating beef to the Serendipity initiative in Louth, which is a local response to the pandemic, driven by community, compassion and a can-do approach: Paul Hugill from the Priory Hotel in Louth has repurposed the restaurant kitchen to provide two nourishing and delicious meals a day to local people who are struggling to feed themselves or their families. 

For some its age, or isolation, vulnerability due to mental health or financial pressure, for whatever reason we stand together and look after each other as neighbours.

Paul Hugill, Serendipity Initiative

The Serendipity Initiative at The Priory Hotel is also working as a redistribution centre sharing food donations with a number of food banks and community feeding programs.

If you feel you can help – whether you are a larger company or an individual, please get in touch with Paul, or donate money.

If you’d like to get involved in the Serendipity project to feed local people, email or call 01507 602930

If you live in Louth and you are struggling to feed yourself or your family, you can call 01507 602930 to request hearty food, delivered twice a day FOR FREE.

The Priory will need your name, address and any dietary restrictions that affect your health.

“We are all in this together and we want to make sure you get nutritious food every day.”

Paul Hugill, Serendipity Initiative

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Fighting the Covid-19 Food War in Lincoln

In Lincoln, the local food system under Covid-19 doesn’t feel very joined up. There are
lots of organisers. The local state (City and County) is marshalling community groups
and individual volunteers (but with no obvious pre-determined strategy for food, or
direct provision).

Organising a Covid-19 response in Lincoln

The Local Enterprise Partnership is trying to get folk onto the land to pick the stuff (we
grow a quarter of all UK fruit and veg in the County and 40% of all flowers). Sustainable
Food Places (organising some 59 urban groups nationally) wants city food partnerships
to assemble ‘grassroots’ groups. Even here at the Lincoln Food Partnership (LFP), we are
trying to put people in touch with each other. It is all about organising.

But who is actually doing local food delivery?

Obviously, food retail is doing well – for those who can afford it. But cafes, restaurants
and pubs may never recover.

This is of particular concern for the Lincoln Food Partnership as we have a network of social eating spaces (all now closed) for the vulnerable and those with special needs. In these places, it is the communion, as well as the food, that is important. Without the communion, those already vulnerable are doubly vulnerable.

Interestingly, our waste food social café – Mint Lane – would have struggled anyway: waste food availability in the City has plummeted.

But there is much heartening news in feeding (and communing with) those in need
under Covid-19, from the ground up.


At the most disaggregated, the ‘Nextdoor’ App allows anyone (with a phone or a computer, granted) to put a dot on the Ward map if they need food support. And anyone who has any food offerings (including doing the shopping) can do the same – in a different colour. Pairing with someone in your own street in this way seems very satisfying.

Not everyone can access Nextdoor.

Working together in Lincoln

At the Lincoln Food Partnership, we have set up an Emergency Response Group of all of the food banks in the City – traditional, church-based and the Lincoln Mosque – so they are now working through a unified referral, point of contact and monitoring system.

Free emergency food parcels can be picked up at nine centres in the City, but 40% of provision is home delivery.

The Churches, YMCA, School Holiday Clubs – over ten of these groups – also have set up
food provisioning services in their locality, where many of the vulnerable are known

Food innovation under lockdown

St George's School gate, Gainsborough

Some schools have been particularly innovative, t turning their kitchens over to production not only for their children at home (with many a schoolteacher doing the daily food run (often literally), but also for anyone over 70 in the school community).

Lincoln catering companies have risen to the challenge, too. The Salted Orange Food Company is working with Age UK to feed the over 65s in their ‘Partnership with Purpose’ project. The Castle Hotel is providing free daily meals direct to front line workers at the Hospital.

Food in rural Lincolnshire

With sparser populations, rural areas can be neglected. But in Lincolnshire, schools in Washingborough and Gainsborough are leading with food distribution, the latter making use of that new citizen, the taxi-driver-dad.

Food Banks in Horncastle and Sleaford have opened their remit to the community (for those in need and those who want to volunteer alike). The Serendipity Project at Louth’s Priory Hotel is providing hearty meals twice a day to local people struggling to feed themselves and their families. The Wragby ChEF (Children Eat Free) is, likewise, feeding the whole community.

Falling below the radar

This is all most heartening. Much of the action is coming from the plain good citizen and
from the voluntary and community sector.

But here is the rub. These groups – many of them Lincoln Food Partnership Members – are falling below the radar of government help. Being neither businesses, employed or self-employed they do not qualify for formal support. And whilst the charity sector is awash with Covid-19 funds that might be bid for, many do not have the time in their hectic food provisioning (and some do not have the skills), to apply.

As I write this, Lincolnshire’s very own Red Arrows have flown over three times, practising to make perfect. They are majestic, awesome. And they cost the Nation about £10 million a year to run. I reflect on whether our national Defence Policy is tooled up to fight the right war.

You can read more detail of the Covid-19 Food Responses in and around Lincoln, and how you can lend your support on our blog.

Nigel Curry Co-chairs the Lincoln Food Partnership

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The LiFT project

Peter from the LiFT project, based at Lincoln Baptist Church, shares his experience of providing food and supporting people during Covid-19 who are facing homelessness and other struggles.

You have to start with people, people get into all sorts of situations. Tragically, some of those situations overtake people when they are still young. For some victims of trauma, they face many years of struggle thereafter. But they are, first and foremost, people. Some find themselves ensnared by drugs, some experience mental ill health. Some spend periods of time in prison. And some experience homelessness. All of them, first and foremost, are people.

So I’m reluctant to say too often or too loudly, that we work with homeless people. We work with people. Because of the way we operate, and where we operate, many of the people we work with are homeless or have experienced homelessness recently. Our building, Lincoln Baptist Church, is the focal point of our work. Our project is called LiFT. Back when everything was normal, we opened the building at various times of the week and got to know people as they joined us for breakfast or lunch. For some, we offered help with accessing housing, medical support, and benefit support, among other things. But that was normal times.

A man turned up today and attempted to walk through the door and join us inside the building. We directed him to the new normal and asked him to move to the table sticking out of the other door.

‘What’s going on?’ he enquired, ‘Why can’t I come in?’

‘Because of this virus thing,’ we replied. ‘If you don’t mind us asking, what’s your situation?’

‘Well, I’ve just got out of prison.’

‘Oh, OH! Just got out? Well I guess you really don’t know then. Put it this way, because of this virus, MacDonald’s is completely closed!’

‘Wow, if McDonald’s is shut, it really is big!’

Yes, it really is big. I was asked to explain what we do now, in the Covid 19 situation. Its still about food; we know people, housed now, who say they would have died if we hadn’t been there to supply them with free food. (Please be clear, we know we aren’t the only ones offering this sort of support in Lincoln)

We now open at 07.00 and carry on until 08.30, giving bags of food to people we know to be in need and others like the gentleman just out of prison who we encountered this morning.

Food is the start. When people come to the door, we have a chat about their situation. A medical team are often with us and they are able to talk about any issues the visitor needs to discuss. We also talk about accommodation to those actually sleeping rough. The authorities do all the hard work but we sometimes play a part in getting people to the right place at the right time.

A real difficulty is getting the balance right between being supportive and encouraging on one hand, and not creating a gathering that loses sight of social distancing on the other. The problem is greatest when dealing with someone who hasn’t grasped the point yet. Then we have the, ‘no I don’t hate you, I’m not picking on you, it’s the same for the whole world’ conversation. It is tricky but most of the time, with warmth and a bit of humour, we get over it.

What is LiFT all about? Offering food to the hungry and looking out for other practical ways we can help as well.

Peter Crosby, April 2020

Covid19 Update from Lincoln Community Larder

From the first realisation of the impact of Covid-19 Lincoln Community Larder determined to remain open throughout the restrictions despite many volunteers being unable to continue due to extra hours working, e.g. for NHS, or self-isolation.

Many organisational changes were required. Revd Rachel Heskins took over at the centre at St John’s Ermine, and John Lawson of Eden at St Giles Methodist Church, extending the hours there to accommodate further demand.

Both were able to use the new online system of vouchers, developed with Lincoln Food Bank and deployed earlier than expected at all centres, due to the closure of referral agencies.

The base at Rosemary Lane is a particular challenge due to limited space so food parcels are now pre-packed in our Warehouse with fresh food added at each session.

Thankfully each session has been dry so the yard could be used to maintain social distancing.

A new outreach opened on Thursday 9th April at St Mary’s Welton to help those in outlying villages to the North of Lincoln.

A small band of volunteers have worked hard at the Warehouse and on the front line providing food.

Our Coordinator has overseen the vital liaison with agencies and charities and collections from local stores, while our Chair and Treasurer have organised the many generous donation and funding available.

The Larder Trustees are very grateful for all the support they have received from the community.

Please continue to donate food, and if you would like to volunteer, please visit

If you would like to donate financially, please visit: 

To donate food and provisions to families in need:

Donation points are in most supermarkets and cooperative food stores in the City. If you would like to deliver a bulk quantity of food or provisions, please check here for drop off points (please maintaining social distancing) or contact for help.

Some Covid-19 food responses in Lincoln City

Covid-19 is changing the food landscape. This is a summary of information we have received from some of the organisations in the City that are setting up food responses. This will change day to day – we are working hard to keep this up to date. We will be pleased to act as a conduit for information: do let us know of any initiatives and updates.

Castle Hotel feeds NHS workers

Castle Hotel is providing free, nourishing meals to NHS workers in Lincoln.

The scheme means that hospital staff can eat a decent meal whilst on shift or take it home after a long stressful shift.

Many front line staff are already working very long hours and this will only worsen with the pandemic. With cafes and other eateries closed, there is an increased need to get decent, healthy food to ICU and Covid19 units at the hospital.

The initiative is currently being funded by Paul Catlow and Saera Ahmad, the owners of Castle Hotel. They are providing meals on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday but are interested in hearing from other businesses so they can offer the service seven days a week.

We want to help ensure Lincoln’s key workers have the choice of a healthy meal each day. Friday was the first delivery, but we are looking for other restaurants to join us as well as donations (this is a not-for-profit initiative). We feel this is a good use of an empty commercial kitchen and represented the opportunity to help. 

Saera Ahmad, Castle Hotel

The meals offered by the Castle Hotel include:

  • Sausage & Mash with Onion Gravy;
  • Cottage Pie with a vegetarian option;
  • Chilli with Rice with a vegetarian option

Desserts are also offered. 

You can help:

To donate towards this project:

Or if you are a restaurant wanting to get involved, message this page please contact

The Castle Hotel, a small, independent family run Hotel and Restaurant on Westgate in Lincoln. They source their produce locally.

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