Lockdown Legends: Jo Hart, co-founder of the Bite Me Burgers food distribution initiative

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·4-min read

Bite Me Burgers is supplying hot, nutritious food to hospitals, care homes, hospices and those who need it most. To date, they’ve delivered over 20,000 burgers. We spoke to Jo Hart, sister of restaurant owner Andrew Hart, about how they came up with the initiative.

Tell us more about how Bite Me Burgers is helping frontline workers?

Jo Hart: When it all first started, the virus kicking in in other countries and things, and they were getting ready at the hospitals, I saw a few people posting on Facebook that their relatives were at hospitals and they weren't getting food.

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Bite Me Burgers is just in Chalk Farm - it's literally five minutes from the Royal Free. So, I suggested to my brother [Andrew Hart, who runs Bite Me Burgers] and I said listen, ‘Why don't we just go and get some food up to the Royal Free, because it seems that they really do need it?’

And then from then, it just kind of spiralled.

What are you offering these NHS workers?

Jo Hart: There's a selection that he [Andrew] does, and they're just easy to eat, especially for nurses and doctors, who are on the run, and they've got literally a minute. They can stuff themselves with these burgers.

And are you now offering the service to other hospitals?

Jo Hart: We started getting calls from Charing Cross and St. Barts and Great Ormond Street, St. Mary's… Andrew goes over to Whipps Cross, Queens and King George's in Essex. He's actually been doing it all himself. He's been picking up his staff, so they don't have to get transport, so there's no contamination on them, because they're a bit nervous as well coming in.

He started by picking them up and bringing them back to the restaurant. They cook the food. And then he personally goes out and delivers.

He started kind of building up really lovely friendships with a lot of the doctors and nurses. They just love it.

Each burger, you're making at a cost of £1.50 – is that right?

Jo Hart: That's correct. That covers the preparation, the delivery, the petrol costs, and the stock basically.

What is it that's preventing NHS staff from getting access to food easily? What are the barriers that are getting in their way?

Jo Hart: Well, a lot of the shops are closed. A lot of the places are closed around them.

The main thing really is they don't want to leave the hospital, because if they leave the hospital, then they could contaminate people on the outside by going out.

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They also don't want to bring it back into the patients and the other doctors and everyone, so by [delivering] the food, it means that they don't have to come out. They don't have to go and get their money out and pay or whatever. They could just carry on doing what they need to do, which is so crucial.

We're delivering to maternity wards. The Salvation Army now has asked. Care homes, I mean, they're really struggling.

How you can help

Jo says that her brother Andrew is not taking any money for his deliveries, so you can donate to the ‘Bite Me Burgers’ food distribution initiative via JustGiving.

And Jo says that even though there’s lot of money being raised – whether that’s by charity singles or straight up donations – there are still so many people who need the funds.

Jo says: “It does help, and we can continue giving those burgers. We're only a small operation, so we haven't got any big names or any big people behind it to do this, so we just need as much as we can so Andrew can keep going to the hospitals and giving.”

For more information visit the Bite Me Burgers website at http://burgerbites.co.uk

Up Close And Socially Distant is hosted by Kate Thornton and features weekly video catch-ups with people who are all doing whatever they can, in whatever unique and special way they can, to help those around them get through lockdown, from frontline heroes, famous faces, and those launching incredible initiatives to help others.

This week Kate speaks to actress and singer, Beverley Knight, who features on the charity single ‘Lean On Me’, co-founder of the NHS Million campaign, Dr Katie Rogerson, and co-founder of the Bite Me Burgers food distribution initiative, Jo Hart.