A TV baker and food judge, who went from living off £10 a week to running a £1million cake-making business and being honoured by the Queen, is rapidly expanding her charity, Jedidiah UK, across the country, following soaring levels of demand from people left in poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cynthia Stroud, who appeared in the BBC 2 series, The Sweet Makers, and is a TV food judge on the Food Network and Channel 4, is best known for her multi award-winning Pretty Gorgeous Cake Co. and recently launched Pretty Gorgeous Jam.
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, it quickly became clear that there was hunger behind some of the front doors where Cynthia lives in Hertford. This prompted her to launch Jedidiah UK (which means ‘Beloved of the Lord’ in Hebrew), and it has rapidly expanded to help those most in need.
Initially working with neighbours to provide 100 food parcels to families in the local area, the charity is currently delivering around 25,000 meals each week, with new requests currently increasing by around 5,000 a week.
The parcels are coordinated by a team of volunteers based in Hertfordshire, solely through schools, to preserve the families’ privacy and dignity. They are currently being delivered to Liverpool, Hertford, Ware, Hoddesdon, Hatfield, Stevenage, Welwyn, Luton and Harlow, with requests now starting to come in from schools in Manchester, Reading, Leeds and London.
Cynthia Stroud explains: “Jedidiah UK was set up with the core mission of ensuring that no one goes hungry. We started working with the YMCA, and planned to provide weekly cookery classes and meal-planning sessions, to help families cook quick, nutritious and delicious meals, also helping with confidence, motivation and health.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we wanted to help, and provided 100 food parcels to local families, which we thought would be a one-off, but the seriousness of the situation soon became clear and we knew we had to continue to help people.
“Following the increase in enquiries for support, we aim to increase our operations so we can work on a national basis. To achieve this, we are looking to work with some national brands to provide the staple items we need, including cereal, rice, pasta, tinned products, etc.”
The charity is a registered partner of FareShare, and the funding for this is the core challenge, as demand is outstripping funding which at present is provided by the founder, Cynthia Stroud, and by volunteer funds. But, continuing with her mantra of ‘Everything is possible’, Cynthia is determined to find ways to continue to expand the help available.
“If there are any food producers who are able to support the charity, or if any members of the public or businesses would like more information, please get in touch via the Jedidiah UK website at www.jedidiah.org.uk”