From Crop to Consumption

South west UK catering company launches Desk Dining initiative

Fosters Event Catering - which has been feeding 300 Bristol NHS front-line staff a day throughout the pandemic - has developed a new initiative which it says could help provide a safe and efficient way of fuelling the region’s workforce. 

For the past six decades Fosters Event Catering has been renowned for providing quality food at high-end events - from weddings and sporting occasions to massive corporate get-togethers - but now the company is gearing up to feed Bristol and the wider South West’s office-workers and students on a daily basis. 

The initiative - called Desk Dining - will be based at Fosters’ large city-centre production kitchens where experienced staff will be creating thousands of meals each day.

“As a large-scale, quality hospitality catering business, well-versed in delivering dinners for one thousand people or more at any given time or location, Fosters has been thinking about how and what we can do differently and what, for the time being, our ‘new normal’ could be,” says Neil Lodge, chief executive at Fosters Events.

“Great food and service comes in many guises and this is why Fosters is developing and producing high quality, locally sourced and seasonal pre-packaged meals in sealed containers which can be delivered direct to workplaces, offices, colleges or schools.

“That will help office staff or students to avoid busy restrooms or canteens and will also mean they don’t have to leave the premises to purchase food or snacks in places where they might run the risk of picking up the virus. Instead, they can collect their nutritious meal and take it to a place where they can socially-distance, confident that their meal has been safely produced.”

Mr Lodge added: “We can even provide everything that an employer, college or school will need to create an onsite catering facility, including refrigeration to keep the delivered meals chilled until required and the equipment to reheat the food, where appropriate.”

“It’s all about adapting to what is being called the ‘new normal’,” said Mr Lodge. “Our new normal means that for the time being there are no large gatherings like sporting events, gala evenings or weddings where we would be doing the catering. Our new normal has meant that, although we’ve had to furlough 90 percent of our staff, 25 of them have volunteered to come in and provide 300 meals a day for front-line NHS staff through the Food For Heroes programme.

“But obviously many other companies and establishments are facing a ‘new normal’. They want staff to come in to work or students to attend classes - and that means people have to be fed and sustained throughout the day. 

“While the pandemic continues, the call to work needs to be done safely - and Fosters is the first major catering company in the UK to come up with a solution,” said Mr Lodge.  

“Desk dining could become the ‘new normal’ for quite a long time to come… It stands to reason that we are ideally equipped to provide this solution - we have large central production kitchens where we can scale-up to feeding 1,000 or 2,000 people day. And we are talking about good nutritional food which has, for the most part, been sourced within just 20 miles of Bristol.”