The Pallet Network (TPN) is serving free evening meals to all its trunk drivers in a bid to inspire the UK logistics industry to improve conditions for HGV drivers and stem the worsening driver shortage.
The hot meals are provided in an on-site pop-up restaurant, with dedicated serving areas under a marquee and plenty of outdoor seating which allows for social distancing. The menus are carefully chosen to be popular but also nutritious, and the meal on offer varies each night.
The free meal scheme started three months ago and is available every week night from late evening until 4am. TPN provides almost 350 hot meals every night.
“Many of our drivers face long journeys, and we do not want them having to rely on snack food or over-priced service station fare,” says TPN MD Mark Kendall. “The least we can do for people driving for hours at night is make sure they have a free, hot meal awaiting them when they arrive at the Hub.”
In order to encourage healthy habits, drivers must pay for additional fizzy drinks and confectionery.
TPN’s Minworth Hub has always had full toilet, shower, and kitchen facilities, equipped with microwaves and toasters for driver use. It also has rest areas with TVs.
“We are very aware that many sites in the UK do not even provide the basic facilities which drivers need for human dignity, let alone places to make themselves comfortable and take the comfort and statutory rest breaks they need,” says Kendall.
“TPN has great driver facilities, with a rest room, access to TVs, shower, toilet facilities and a full kitchen,” he says. “However, we need to go further as a sector. We don’t want our drivers having to live off microwaved soup or toast. Anyone working the night shift is already forgoing family time and most social meals as they provide an essential service while most UK residents are in their beds.
“It is time we all started to think about what more we can do to ensure that drivers’ journeys are as easy and well accommodated as possible,” says Kendall.
The logistics industry is facing a critical driver shortage, which Logistics UK estimates at circa 76,000.