Created during the global pandemic in August 2020 by former single mum Hayley Steere, Free My Meal aims to connect those who need a meal with those who are willing to cook one.
It’s a simple and easy exchange, based on trust and goodwill. Using social media, people sign up to private Free My Meal groups as a ‘recipient’ or a ‘cook’, or in some cases, both. Free My Meal does not provide meals, it simply forms connections enabling people to find one.
The service is suitable for anyone who finds themselves in need of a meal and not having the means to buy the food to make one. Anyone can join with no fear of judgement or discrimination.
The idea was born whilst making a batch of Chilli for her family, Hayley says “I began thinking about how things may have been different had I still been a single parent family and struggling to survive, during the current climate. I wouldn’t have used a food bank or community fridge owing to pride and my own feelings of shame.” Hayley acknowledges that these resources however, are invaluable to communities and hopes that Free My Meal can be utilised in conjunction with these exceptional organisations. Hayley says, “We work closely with other community resources constantly.”
The Free My Meal service has proved invaluable for its users and within 6 weeks there are now 23 groups with almost 3.4k members with group and member numbers continuing to grow daily. Once a new geographic area is identified as having a need for a Free My Meal group, Hayley and the team create one and welcome community members to help grow that group to reach cooks and recipients. Hayley says, “No one knows their community better than someone living within it, the support from these wonderful volunteers has proved invaluable.”