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Charity Sophie’s Legacy partners with NHS to launch ‘More Please!’ cookbook

1st Jul 2024 - 07:00
Charity Sophie’s Legacy partners with NHS to launch ‘More Please!’ cookbook
Sophie’s Legacy, a charity set up to honour a young cancer victim, has joined forces with the NHS to launch a cookbook titled ‘More Please!’ as part of efforts to improve food for children in hospitals.

It was inspired by Sophie Fairall, a young girl who endured repeated hospital stays during treatment for cancer and whose poor experience with the food on offer motivated her to push for change.

She was disappointed, too, by the way the parents of children in hospital were treated. They often spent many hours, sometimes overnight, on wards but might never be offered even a cup of tea. After she died, her mother Charlotte set up the Sophie’s Legacy charity to try to address these issues.

On the launch of the ‘More Please!’ recipe book, Charlotte said: “This is something that’s been about a year in the making and it’s one of Sophie’s wishes. I met Nick Vadis from NHS Supply Chain: Food and told him about how Sophie had described food as disgusting in hospital and how she wanted an improvement to that.

“And he has gone away and worked with a number of different people from Foodbuy UK and the NHS and they have come up with this amazing cookbook. This is the first time there has been a focus on children like this and it’s super exciting.”

She said she really liked the way it looked at what would work for two-year-olds all the way through to a 16-year-old, and the approach to flexibility to mealtimes was also a big step forward.

Phil Shelley, senior operational manager – soft FM for NHS England, explained that the Sophie’s Legacy charity had also set aside £75,000 which allowed 15 NHS Trusts to get £5,000 each to start a service and find ways to make it sustainable long-term to feed children better and also to support parents and carers. The pilot sites carried out their new-style service for 3-4 months and then fed back.

He said: “There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach on this and it was very much left to Trusts to design a system that worked for them and their requirements. Yes, this is a challenge for chefs, and we must make sure we do enough to train them.

“It is about trying to get away from the three set mealtimes and to be ready to feed children and young adults when they want to eat, not when it’s convenient to us. The funding is there within the NHS to provide this service, but it needs to be actively supported by the NHS and requires collaboration between clinicians, dietitians and caterers to make it work.”

There are three parts to the initiative: Feeding parents and carers; children’s cancer work; and the delivery of the ‘More Please!’ recipe book, which has been produced by Nick Vadis, chef ambassador to NHS Supply Chain and Leanne Turk, head of culinary development for Foodbuy UK & Ireland.

The efforts are part of moves to improve service in this area, using the Chef’s Academy working with teams in their kitchens to produce age-appropriate and enticing meals for toddlers, children, young people and adults.

Written by
Edward Waddell