A taxi firm and bakery have teamed up to help vulnerable people in Croydon.
Coulsdon taxi firm District Cars Evo are collecting leftover food from six Coughlans Bakery stores, and inviting those in need to come and collect it from the food hub at their base on Coulsdon’s high street.
The scheme started out in response to Marcus Rashford’s free school meal campaign, but both companies say the offer is for anyone who needs help.
District Cars Evo controller, Louise Hammond, 37 said: “There is no reason in today’s society for anybody to be going to bed hungry.
“I’m putting this out to anybody in our area that needs help if you need a helping hand we’re here.”
She put the call out on the taxi firm’s Facebook page, offering to help any Croydon based companies provide free school meals to vulnerable people and Sean Coughlan, 48, who runs Coughlans Bakery responded.
Coughlan said: “We’re pretty dismayed and upset about how the Government has handled the no kids’ meals during half term and I’ve got young children myself so it’s something I feel pretty strongly about.
“I’ve listened to some amazing reports on the radio and TV, and I’m listening to this as a dad and I’m literally welling up. I can’t handle this, and I produce food so I’ve just got to be able to do something.
“You hope there’s not a need for the food hub, but I think we’d all be blindly naive if we thought there wasn’t.”
In addition to donating surplus food to the new hub in Coulsdon, Coughlans are also running a pay it forward scheme where customers can come in and purchase a sticky note for £5 that someone else can redeem for up to £5 worth of food, with a free plant based sausage roll thrown in on top.
The father-of-three said he has been humbled by the response to the scheme, estimating that hundreds of people have been fed by it.
He said: “We live in a generation now where we’ve all just got to be a bit nicer to each other and just be kind if you can and help each other if you can.”
But it doesn’t stop there, Coughlans already work with five homeless charities who take their waste food, but they say there is always enough to go around for more.
They also recently began selling face masks, with proceeds going to the NHS.
The Coughlan family have been artisan bakers since the bakery was founded by Jack Coughlan in 1937 and have 26 stores over the Croydon and Surrey area.