Free fruit and veg is finally finding its way to the pandemic frontline after a “frustrating” delay for an Angus firm determined to help the heroes of the NHS.
The family-run Stirfresh operation, based near Montrose, is a leading national supplier with contracts including major supermarkets Aldi and Lidl.
It also already supplies hospitals in Tayside, Fife and Grampian but had hit a barrier in a bid to add gratis produce to regular deliveries for the food to go directly into staff canteens and benefit under-pressure employees.
However, Fife staff have now received their first load of fruit and veg, with NHS Tayside bosses pledging to make sure such offers of support reach “the right place at the right time”.
The company, led by husband and wife Andrew and Anita Stirling, employs around 65 people and had hoped the offer would be easy to action.
“We are a fully accredited business already operating contracts with these bodies and visiting hospitals several times a week, so this was not just a case of a helpful person turning up and wanting to drop off some cakes or something like that as a thank you,” said Mr Stirling.
“We wanted to be able to put a few boxes of fruit and veg onto the regular orders, but to make sure that it would reach the canteen for the staff.
“We just felt it is the least we can do in this situation, which is affecting us all and could be here for a long time.
“Unfortunately it didn’t prove as simple as we thought it would so it has been a bit frustrating.
“Fife came up with an arrangement and the first load was dropped off at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy so we are pleased to have been able to get that in place. We’ll keep trying with the other areas.”
Mr Stirling added: “As a business we remain very busy and we are taking various precautions.
“Those include spread shifts and we are having to work really hard, but our staff are responding and we will maintain our duty of care to them.
“All of the farmers are trying to get on with it and do their bit,” he said.
A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said: “NHS Tayside is extremely grateful for the support given to us by the public and businesses across Tayside.
“We are in the process of contacting businesses who have generously offered or donated to support the organisation to make the necessary arrangements to get donations to the right people in the right place at the right time.”
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