The Country Food Trust was set up in 2015 with the aim of helping provide delicious meals to people in food poverty. In August this year they reached the milestone of donating over 1.5 million meals since inception. Whilst much of this has been with their renowned pheasant curry and pheasant casserole they have also, during COVID19, donated meat that would usually have been destined for restaurants, such as duck, chicken and turkey to the near 2,000 charities they are helping.
The charity distributed over 62,000 meals using British venison during the summer. They have since been exploring the increased use of venison and working with The British Wild Venison Working Group. The group has been facilitated by The Forestry Commission and established in response to the recent decline in the wholesale market, to develop novel and new markets for British Wild Venison, and see how best to work with this delicious and versatile meat. Alongside geese, rabbits and pigeon, deer are an incidental source of protein, making venison an incredibly healthy meat, with approximately 25% less calories and only 50% of the fat content seen in other red meats.
Wild deer management is an essential part of countryside management, supporting the protection of arable crops, ancient woodlands and associated biodiversity, and future woodland creation schemes.
Having recently supplied over 360,000 meals through FareShare for children, the charity’s CEO Tim Woodward has spoken to FareShare in detail about their current needs and as a result, wanted to increase their support of children living in food poverty in the UK. To avoid any potential issues with feeding children, the charity made the decision to only use deer that had been shot with non-lead ammunition in all its venison products. With the help of The Forestry Commission who already stipulate no use of lead on their land, they are now working with two reputable game dealers – MC Kelley in Devon and Willo Game in Shropshire – who are able to provide a guarantee of lead free venison.
The charity asked their talented consultant chef, Tim Maddams, to create a ready meal that would be appealing to children (as well as adults), designed to complement their already popular ‘Country Casserole’ and ‘Country Curry’ recipes which Maddams also devised. Tim felt a venison bolognese would be perfect and after a month of trials with the factory, announced the delicious recipe was finalised.
To celebrate World Food Day on Friday 16th October, The Country Food Trust placed its first order of 15,000 meals of venison bolognese with their manufacturer and hope to be able to deliver it to children in need throughout November. The bolognese comes in the familiar retorted pouches (pictured below) that the end charity uses in either single portions or in catering packs of 2 kilos. The retort pouches have a one-year life and need no refrigeration or chilling required, making them a highly flexible food source for charities helping those in need.
Tim Woodward CEO said of the latest launch, “We have been delighted by the response to our existing range of products but it has become clear that we need to provide across the age range of those in food poverty. This delicious venison bolognese is a really tasty meal for children, served with pasta, rice, or bread, or as a nutritious and warming soup. Of course, all ages love spag bol so we hope it will also appeal to the whole family.”
David Hooton of the Forestry Commission added, “We welcome being able to support the work of The Country Food Trust and to develop wholesome meals to feed those in food poverty. The British Wild Venison Working group is working to extend the availability, promotion and the use of British Wild Venison across the country, ensuring that this versatile meat is used to its fullest potential.”
David McAuley CEO of The BDS stated, “We are delighted to be working alongside The Country Food Trust, the Forestry Commission and The British Wild Venison Group to promote the use of British Wild Venison across the UK. We are especially delighted to support Tim Woodward and Tim Maddams and all at The Country Food Trust with their work helping to reduce child poverty across the UK. We will continue to support and assist this work and the promotion of British Wild Venison, an incredibly healthy protein.”
Tim Maddams Consultant Chef said “As ever, I was delighted to offer my help with this project, and I am very happy with the product we have produced together linking sustainable wild meat with children in real need of quality protein at this very difficult time.”
The Country Food Trust will also be running their annual Winter Appeal throughout November and December. This year will be aimed specifically at feeding children in need. The charity hopes to produce a further 100,000 of the ‘Country Bolognese’ to achieve this mission. As part of the campaign, the charity will also be launching a series of lottery prizes via their social media channels, that supporters and followers can try to win, whilst helping to feed children around the country.