An 89-year-old has taken it upon herself to bake hundreds of pies to help feed struggling families who are not getting free school meals for their children.
Flo Osborne, from Harwich, Essex, began baking in lockdown to help vulnerable people in her community, and has now extended her efforts to support Marcus Rashford’s call to help school children who rely on free school meals.
The great-great-grandmother pays for all her own ingredients for the pies and she gets up at the crack of dawn – sometimes as early as 4.30am – to bake them in the small kitchen at her sheltered accommodation.
Check out Flo in action below:
The idea to share her pies came from her son Graham, who owns the hotel and restaurant Samuel Pepys in Harwich.
Graham offered to help make meals in response to a community campaign started by firefighter Les Nicoll called the North Essex Support Team (NEST), which helps to look out for elderly and vulnerable people who have been unable to leave their house due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Graham told Les his mum could make a ‘mean cherry pie’ and Flo went on to become the campaign’s oldest baker, cranking out about 20 pies every fortnight, each of which made 16 servings. Flo’s pies range from sweet cherry and apple to savoury steak.
Speaking about her efforts, Flo said:
I saw [Rashford’s campaign] on the news and I thought, that’s lovely.
I have been baking pies throughout lockdown to help vulnerable people in the community, and I love doing it. It keeps me going, and gives me something to do.
But I thought, I would love to help the little ones, too. I’ve even been thinking about baking miniature pies for the children.
Some people say I’m mad, but I just tell them that I love to help other people. If I can help them, I will.
Flo has donated close to 200 pies since the start of April, and she’s upping her output this week to help feed families during the school half term.
Social workers approached Les’s campaign to let them know which families were struggling, and the volunteers have come up with a separate hot menu to deliver specially to the families.
Les, who described Flo as ‘an absolute dream’, added:
And without a doubt they’ll also be getting a slice of Flo’s pie with custard. Everybody we deliver food to gets a slice of Flo’s pie.
Since the start of lockdown, NEST has delivered almost 5,000 meals to vulnerable people around Harwich, as well as doing almost 2,500 grocery shops and picking up between 300 and 400 prescriptions.
The firefighter described the government’s decision to vote against free meals as a ‘disgrace’, saying he was ‘very disappointed’ with the money the government has wasted when it could have been spent feeding children.
Graham said his mum has been ‘doing amazing’ throughout lockdown, and admitted that he took her baking ‘for granted’ when he was growing up.
Even now, at almost 90, if I turned around to her and said, ‘Do you think you could bake 20 pies today?’, she wouldn’t flinch.
She says it gives her something to do during the day, and gives her a reason to get up in the morning. She’s very caring. If she thinks she can do something for someone, she will.
Flo doesn’t have any secret recipe for her pies, nor does she weigh out any of her ingredients. Having learned to bake from her own mother, she said it just ‘comes naturally’ and that she mixes the pastry how she wants, noting that she knows ‘what it should feel like’.
The 89-year-old has said she’ll keep on baking for as long as she can, and the people she’s feeding will no doubt appreciate every single slice.
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