Share your Christmas Dinner with others in your local area through Free My Meal. A new campaign linking volunteer cooks with recipients around the UK.
Part of our ‘Communities Spreading Cheer’ series
Part of our ‘Communities Spreading Cheer’ series
Have you heard of Free My Meal? It’s the simplest of concepts: connect people in need of a meal with people who can provide one.
But, this is a concept so effective, necessary and powerful that the campaign has grown exponentially since its creation in August of this year.
sharing love, hope & chilli
How It All Began
Founder Hayley Steere, of Godalming, Surrey, was trying to think how to help others in her local community during the spring lockdown. Like many of us, she was eager to reach out to those in need and reassure them that support was available.
Whilst making chilli one day, she realised that a little extra cooking was all that was needed. ‘Chilli is such an easy dish; it travels well, is generally liked and simple to produce in larger quantities. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a place that you could get chilli from should you need dinner.’
The next day, Hayley launched Free My Meal. ‘I had no idea how things would take off’. But this was the first step to a groundswell of interest. Within 24 hours, there were already around 200 people signed up and it’s grown rapidly ever since. ‘We’ve now linked literally of thousands of pairs of volunteer cooks with recipients across the country, and beyond.’
Tell Us About Your Project
Want to share a Christmas cheer project underway in your local area? It’s very much a case of ‘The More The Merrier’. We love sharing good news heartwarming stories, no matter the scope or size!
‘we just want to offer love & support’
Former single-mum Hayley has first-hand experience of struggling to put food on the table. She hates the idea of others having the same challenge.
‘Most of all, I hate the idea that people are too embarrassed to seek help. There should be no shame in asking. People may need help for a whole host of different reasons, even people who look like they have it all together from the outside. We’re not here to judge or ask questions – we just want to offer love and support.’
Already over 15,000 people have signed up across 64 geographically-arranged Facebook Groups. The majority of the groups are in the UK but they stretch as far away as The Phillippines and Australia. In each group, people either offer a meal, or request support.
Free My Meal seeks to link the two groups, minimising food wastage and ensuring it goes directly where it is needed the most.
Hayley tells us, ‘The requests for meals can be done privately so no-one need feel awkward about reaching out. The whole campaign is based on trust and respect, and so far our members have been brilliant in their understanding of that.’
Want To Sprinkle Some Christmas Kindness?
Add a sprinkling of festive cheer in your community with a Kindness Advent Calendar. Because no act of kindness is too small.
Turn advent on its head and donate to your local food bank with a Reverse Advent Calendar. Find out all about this new tradition and download our Reverse Advent Calendar Poster for your fridge door.
‘those Louis fans are amazing!’
Free My Meal has really captured the imagination. ‘We’ve been so lucky to receive some amazing support from celebrities as well.’
From Nigella Lawson to Kathy Burke, Lord Alan Sugar and many many more, there has, rightly, been all sorts of heartwarming support for this wonderful initiative.
‘And don’t forget Louis Tomlinson!’, says Hayley.
‘Those Louis fans are AMAZING! They’ve already raised well over £3,000 for FreeMyMeal in honour of Louis’s birthday. We love him, and them, and can’t thank everyone enough!’
Spread The Word!
Like what you’ve seen? Be sure to share with your friends.
Let’s sprinkle Christmas cheer far and wide!
no one should go hungry this Christmas
Christmas Food Pledge
The campaign has recently launched its Christmas Food Pledge Promise.
‘We want to make sure everyone can enjoy a Christmas meal this year. So, whether it’s through cooking an extra few portions of your own Christmas dinner, or donating so that we can deliver a food shop or some festive treats to a family, we are eager to get as many people involved as possible.
And, of course, we are ready and waiting to receive requests from those that need the support this year so we know where to send the donations.’
share your christmas dinner
How To Get Involved
Given that so many of us overcook at this time of year anyway, Free My Meal’s Christmas Food Pledge Promise is a perfect way to minimise waste, and help spread Christmas cheer in your local community.
Why not use The Full Freezer’s Stress-Free Christmas Dinner to advance prepare some extra portions of Christmas food? Then you’ll be ready to respond to any requests for meals over the festive period in your local area.
Get Ahead for a Stress-Free Christmas Dinner
Does the thought of pulling Christmas Dinner together bring you out in a cold sweat? We have a corker of a solution for you to guarantee a stress-free Christmas Dinner!
For more heart-warming stories of Christmas Spirit in the local community, click here.
Looking to get ahead with your Christmas Dinner, we’ve got you covered. Click here for details.
Need inspiration for what to cook to share with others in your local community? Check out the recipes from the Jolly Festive kitchen for ideas.
Looking For More Community Cheer?
A simple act of Christmas kindness which gives focus to festive family walks and offers a super way to build strong community connections.
More Acts of Christmas Kindness were on display in the Teeside area as a group of university students spread elvish Christmas cheer.
Six neighbours in Hull joined forces in an Act of Christmas Kindness, creating a dazzling Christmas lights display for their local community.
Help us spread the word about this heartwarming project. And be sure to tag #jollyfestive when you do!
Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @jollyfestive for more inspiring stories of giving back this Christmas and beyond.
More Festive Inspiration
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Grab the family, make some popcorn & settle down for 24 nights of Christmas films with Jolly Festive’s Christmas Movie Advent Calendar!
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Delicious warm from the oven, eaten as leftovers or as an accompaniment to Christmas cheese and pickles; it’s Jolly Festive’s Christmas Ham!
This slow cooker turkey mince chili requires minimal effort but delivers the maximum flavour! Perfect for the crazy run-up to Christmas.