One thing austerity has highlighted is the scandal of edible food being thrown away.
How can we bin food, even if it has reached its ‘best by’ date, when some people can’t afford to feed themselves or their families?
Concern about this has led to a widespread movement. It is called The Real Junk Food Project and next week it will see the launch of Durham’s first pop-up cafe offering food which would otherwise be binned.
RE-f-USE will pop up in Durham Indoor Market, a partner in the enterprise, at 6pm on Friday, June 12, running until 8.30pm.
It will be the latest in a network of such cafes around the country which serve meals that, while perfectly palatable, have been intercepted on their way to the garbage.
Typically the cafes are run in partnership with local shops, restaurants and wholesalers to help them reduce the amount of food being wasted.
They are generally run on a ‘pay as you feel’ (PAYF) basis. Donations of money are welcomed but other customers pay for their food by helping to wash up or playing music – payment ‘in kind’.
It all began in Leeds with a chef called Adam Smith who started to make stews, casseroles, soups and cakes with food unwanted by supermarkets, independent grocers and food banks.
In 10 months last year he fed 10,000 people with 20 tonnes of unwanted food and raised over £30,000. His social cafe in Armley, The Real Junk Food Project, lent its name to the movement.
Nikki Dravers, director of RE-f-USE and a campaigner against food waste, said: “In a world where around 870m people (one in nine) are hungry, it is an outrage that one third of food produced worldwide is thrown away when it is perfectly fit for human consumption.
“In the UK we waste 15m tonnes of food every year. That’s enough to fill nine Wembley Stadiums to the brim.
“It’s really exciting to be part of this growing movement of activists who see the social and environmental impacts of this issue and want to challenge the systems at a local, national and international level.”
Co-director Mim Skinner added: “It’s about feeding people with dignity. We’re not a charity. At a time when political focus is on ‘economy’ rather than ‘society’, PAYF is saying that we value people’s time, company and talents as much as money.
“These cafes are one of the most diverse meeting places I’ve ever been. Students and family sit round a dinner table with clergy,environmental activists and those who are homeless or at risk of food poverty. Food brings people together.”
RE-f-USE has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, @REfUSE_cic