Pembroke College is providing homeless people in Oxford with three meals a day in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The College is participating in a Council-run scheme which delivers food to three temporary homeless shelters. An email to Pembroke students suggested that the project may reach 100 people.
The scheme provides two hot meals and a cold breakfast, which are delivered by volunteer drivers each day. Coordinated by Oxford City Council, the scheme began a two-week trial period on Saturday, with the aim of an extension if successful. Thousands of meals will be provided, offered by the College at cost price.
“I’ve always said that while we have one student in College who needs our support the kitchens here will not shut”, said Kevin Dudley, Pembroke’s Executive Chef. “We continue to look after those who have had to stay in residence, and when the Council got in contact about this need in the wider community it seemed obvious that we could provide the solution.
“My team, who are working long shifts with small numbers on duty at a time, have been fantastic in stepping up.”
The College is confident that the increased demand on the catering team will not place staff or the 50 students remaining in college in danger. A College spokesperson confirmed to Cherwell that the small number of staff adhere to social distancing policy and that drivers are asked to clean their hands and are provided with new pairs of gloves at each pick-up.
Dame Lynne Brindley, Master of Pembroke, said: “Everyone in College is immensely proud of our catering team who are once again putting in extra effort to show the meaning of being a caring community.”
The Council has taken further measures to help homeless people during the crisis. 100 hotel rooms have been leased to provide accommodation, whilst the Porch day centre for homeless and vulnerable people has launched a £20,000 COVID-19 Response Fund. However, the Council reports that some rough sleepers have not yet been accommodated or have refused offers of accommodation.