The Speaker
Wednesday, 29 November 2023 – 13:11

Volunteers help to ensure NHS workers get fed during COVID-19 pandemic

Volunteers are helping to ensure that NHS workers get fed during the difficult times of the Coronavirus pandemic.

After long shifts trying to save lives, NHS hospital staff are often faced with closed canteens and low stocked vending machines – that’s according to Meals for the NHS, a non-profit set up to help feed NHS workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project, setup by Alick Varma and Emma Phillips, now has a team working to feed frontline NHS staff, from doctors and nurses to cleaners and security staff.

Feeling helpless sat at home and obeying the social distancing rules, Emma and Alick talked about how they could better support NHS workers and in a matter of days, pulled together a small working team. At first, the team managed to get 50 pasta meals funded for NHS workers at the Whittington Hospital in London. On Day 2, the group provided meals to 3 NHS hospitals, and this has continued to scale up.

Tech entrepreneur Alick Varma co-founded Meals for the NHS, saying “I realised the NHS can’t save the nation on an empty stomach and wanted to do something about it”. 

The meals given to NHS staff are prepared and distributed by local businesses and are paid for by donations. These businesses may have otherwise had to go out of business during the pandemic, according to the group. So far, the group has raised over £400,000 thanks to over 7,000 donations.

An ITU Nurse at Kings College Hospital, one of the hospitals to receive meals said;

“Just want to say I’ve got so many thanks from ppl for the food! Today was particularly tough – it was a very emotional day and when they saw the boxes in the staff room, they loved it.  So, really – thank you to you and your team.”

You can donate to the Meals for the NHS initiative at

Similar projects are being set up by individuals, groups and companies in London and around the country to provide more NHS staff with free food amid the current pandemic. Deliveroo has said it will be delivering free meals to some hospitals, while Uber has announced it is giving away 200,000 rides worth up to £15 for NHS workers.


Photo Credit: Lisa Anneke

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