Community champion Martin puts his old chef skills to good use to help homeless centre
Our St Matthews store's community champion Martin Bateman stepped in to help a centre in Walsall supporting homeless and vulnerable people which needed someone to cook for them after they lost their funding for a chef.
Martin was a chef and catering manager before he joined Asda 10 years ago, so he dusted down his apron and put his old skills to very good use – spending four hours batch-cooking meals for The Glebe Centre to offer their service users.
He said: "When they told me they'd lost their funding for a cook I thought it was about time I used my 30 years' experience as a chef and catering manager so I spent a day cooking to fill the gap and offer practical support so they weren't too inconvenienced by the loss of funding.
"I love cooking, always have done, so it was very enjoyable, and I said I'd come back in once a fortnight to batch cook for them until they get funding for a new chef.
"It's one thing donating goods, but donating time to something that you can do and that they need is much more worthwhile."
Martin has a close relationship with the centre and donates clothes and fresh food on behalf of the store whenever he can.
He said: "They do hot meals on a Monday and a Friday and on Tuesdays and Thursdays they do 'cook and show' where they show people how to cook out of a tin basically. If I can get in there on a Wednesday and batch cook for them that will keep them in food until the next time I can get in.
"Last time I was in I did a big tray of lasagne, chilli con carne and then they had hundreds of tins of hot dog sausages so I made a hot dog pasta bake. I was trying to use up food that they have got before it goes out of date.
"They are so grateful, which is so nice, and the people who use the centre have given great feedback too to say they enjoyed the meals."
Martin, who's 62, has been community champion at our store for 10 years, but before that he worked in and ran a number of pubs and restaurants around the M25 in Greater London.
The centre posted on Facebook to thank the "multi-talented" Martin for his assistance, saying: "Martin spent three to four hours with us batch cooking food for the centre so that we could provide hot meals for service users.
"He whipped up a chilli, a pasta bake and a lasagne – all of which smelled and looked delicious! This kind of support is invaluable to us now we no longer have a cook and will make providing food at lunchtime easier for the staff. Thank you so much Martin – we're really grateful for all your help!"