How Eurest helped Heathrow deliver a free food scheme for colleagues during cost-of-living crisis

Cost-of-living initiative in place in double-quick time

With the winter in full swing and a cost-of-living crisis raging, Heathrow Airport has launched a free meal scheme for all their colleagues, with the help of contract catering partner Eurest. The airport wanted to offer every single colleague on site access to a daily free meal and a free hot drink to keep them well fed and make a small difference in difficult times.

As the on-site contract caterer for Heathrow, Eurest was well placed to help and, with a need to act quickly, was able to turn around the entire operation in only four weeks. That was despite huge logistical challenges, including having to hurriedly re-open workplace restaurants which had been closed since the pandemic – ready for increased demand.

Over 241,000 vouchers redeemed

Tom Bonner, Contract Director, Eurest, said: “We’re proud to say that, thanks to the hard work of so many people, we rose to that challenge.

“Heathrow Airport Ltd colleagues can now access one square meal and a hot drink for free every time they come on shift - already more than 241,000 vouchers have been redeemed.

“Any solution was never going to be simple. We have more than 100 different clients across the airport and needed to reach them all while maintaining speed of service. But we developed an app-based voucher solution which has proved hugely popular.”

Heathrow’s 6,000 colleagues can now access two daily vouchers on their app, one for food and one for a hot drink, which can be used at any time during their shift – whether that is breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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A 93% uptake

Fraser Brown, Heathrow’s Retail Director said: “I am extremely grateful for our partners at Eurest for helping us to roll out free hot meals for every Heathrow Airport Ltd colleague during their working day, as a temporary cost of living measure this winter.

“The scheme has seen 93% of Heathrow colleagues take up the offer as part of a range of support procedures. Without Eurest’s cooperation this would not have been possible, so thank you to Morag and the team for their support.”

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An incredible undertaking in a very short timescale

Eurest brought in food vans to ensure every part of the airport was served and even created a special menu for the on-site fire station, delivering raw ingredients for firefighters to cook themselves. When you add in increased labour requirements, colleague training and app development, it was an incredible undertaking in a very short timescale.

“We are so happy with the way it turned out,” said Tom. “There were some significant challenges. Compass Centre, the 2,000-cover workplace restaurant in head office at Heathrow, was half-way through a refurb when it closed because of the pandemic. So, that had to be completed in double-quick time - including a new floor put down.

“We’re proud to say it was open by November, in time for the Christmas rush, so Christmas lunches were covered by the free food voucher too.”

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