Heinz Food Heroes, an awards programme from Heinz and hospitality networking association Arena, has announced its inaugural winners.
The awards seek to celebrate those within the food industry who have gone above and beyond in their community, this year receiving more than 150 entries.
Tracey Harriott, a supervisor at Starbucks for Amadeus at the NEC (pictured above), was presented with the award for Most Heroic Individual. Five years ago Harriott noticed an opportunity to reduce food waste at the NEC and help the local community, delivering food close to its expiry waste to the community projects with which she was already involved.
Harriott has since built a network of colleagues and local businesses to gather clothes, bedding, toiletries and furniture, in addition to food. Donations are split between various beneficiaries, which include hostels, the homeless and community sport groups designed to empower children.
The Most Heroic Team award was presented to the people behind Fish & Chips @ Weston Grove, who host a range of initiatives to support their community. This includes sponsoring a homeless football team to provide team skills and reduce isolation, feeding 40 people a week in temporary hostels (during and after lockdown) and complimentary meals for the elderly to encourage interaction and alleviate loneliness.
The fish and chip shop is both Makaton- and dementia-friendly. Children can visit to take part in activities relating to sustainability and the versatility of potatoes, learning about science and nutrition and with regular cooking lessons.
The Heinz Food Heroes judges included Leo Kattou, head chef at Simpsons restaurant in Birmingham, who is also a 2020 Acorn Award winner and 2019 MasterChef: The Professionals finalist; Candice Brown, owner of the Green Man pub in Eversholt, Bedfordshire, and winner of The Great British Bake Off 2016; Lorraine Wood, director of Arena; and Jojo de Noronha, Kraft Heinz Northern European president.
De Noronha said: "Selecting overall winners for these awards was exceptionally difficult. It's been the most challenging year most of us have ever faced and we know that there are heroes from all walks of life and from all corners of the country. As an industry, I'm sure we all offer our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has gone above and beyond to contribute to those that need it most.
"Both of our winners stood out for their approach in supporting the community as a whole; many different people benefit from their fantastic work and support."
Wood added, "Huge congratulations go to the winners! We'd also like to thank everyone who took part in Heinz Food Heroes. It was both inspiring and humbling to read through all the entries; we were overwhelmed by the kindness and selflessness that both individuals and teams have shown."
Each winner of Heinz Food Heroes will receive £5,000 to continue helping their communities. Harriott will be investing the prize into training and equipment for the initiatives she works with in order to benefit the vulnerable, while Fish & Chips @ Weston Grove will use the money to support their homeless football team, as well as sending the team on a seafish course at Billingsgate market in London.
Harriott commented: "I'd like to thank the team at the NEC for their continued support in both collecting and supplying donations, and my colleagues, friends and family. Everyone pitches in to help wherever they can; whether it's buying toiletries for the homeless community or lending me fridge space to store surplus sandwiches or my homemade soup, ready for distribution. I may co-ordinate it, but it wouldn't be possible without all the help people are prepared and happy to give."
Josette Foster, co-owner of Fish & Chips @ Weston Grove, added: "We're absolutely thrilled to receive this very special award. Fish and chip shops across the country have been at the heart of the community for 160 years. We understand the important role we play in supporting the wider community and our social responsibility to care for our extended family. This really comes from the heart, not just during this difficult year – it's a long-term commitment to giving something back."