You may not have heard of the ‘Real Junk Food Project’, but it is something helping save a lot of food from becoming waste in the UK. The project is an attempt to help bring about change in our food system. Run by a collaboration between activists and catering professionals, all volunteers, the project aims to stop food from being wasted. There are a number of cafes which have been set up by the project, and more are emerging regularly. The cafes use perfectly edible food intercepted from skips or stores as it is thrown away. As well as creating positive environmental impacts by not wasting so much food, the cafes operate on a ‘Pay as you feel’ (PAYF) system, creating clear social benefits as well. There is no price on the produce in store, and as well as allowing people to pay what they can afford, it helps people think about the way they use and waste food in general. For those who can’t afford to pay in money, people can also donate by offering their skills for a meal.
UK studies have shown that we waste around 15 million tonnes of edible food each year, that’s a lot of food that could be eaten, especially in cafes such as these. The junk food project recently opened another café in Bristol, and is set to open a couple more around the country, yet with that 15 million tonnes of food there could be so many more. From December 2013 to June 2014, the real Junk food project served 2888 people at the PAYF café, and intercepted 10,520.716kgs of edible food before it ended up on landfill sites.
The menus of the Real Junk Food Project restaurants change daily depending on what food they have in, and with increased publicity comes more help, such as restaurants and local shops donating their out of date food to the cafes to use. The cafes are open to all, and mean that people from all different walks of life can sit and eat a meal together, from those unable to afford a meal otherwise, to business people, children and the elderly, also enhancing the sense of community.
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