– Let’s really feed the world –
A misty morning for my second visit to the open for five weeks now Pay As You Feel Café in Everton.
Before we go in a few words about how things work here and why. This café is part of the Real Junk Food Project, a now global movement that was started in Armley in Leeds, where this blog visited back in the summer. A movement that’s all about eradicating food waste, because in one of the richest economies on earth we’re throwing away 35% of our food, in a country where austerity politics is causing many people to go needlessly hungry. And so a movement has started that is intercepting this food at the moment it is pointlessly thrown away – and retrieving it on behalf of us all. Collecting food from restaurants, shops and even people’s allotments that would otherwise be going to waste. Not rotten food, not bad food, just excess food that would otherwise be going in the bin.
They cook what they get and offer it to anyone who wants it or needs it. And you pay what you feel you can. And if you can’t pay some days, that’s ok. But maybe you’d like to volunteer some times? Help collect the food, help cooking it and serving it and generally running the place? Everyone you’re about to meet in here is a volunteer too.
So it’s a simple and brilliant idea. In fact, I think the Real Junk Food idea is one of the best I’ve ever heard in my life. And it’s not only hugely needed in the needlessly cruel economy we’re living in, it’s also hugely interesting to a lot of people. When I published my blog post about this place opening five weeks ago it was read by 12,000 people. More immediate reads than anything else I’ve ever written. So how’s it doing?
While I’m here a constant stream of people come in to eat. Some regulars and some for the first time, listening enthusiastically and almost incredulously as the way the place operates is explained to them. It’s a very happy place.
It’s not been all that long since breakfast so I’ve gone for one of the lighter options.
And the thing is, you never know what there’ll be and neither do they! It depends what they can bring in or get donated to them on any given day.
Always a meat option, a fish option and vegan too – what I’m having. And when you’ve finished?
While I’m photographing there are volunteers bringing in the next lot of food to be cooked up and served out.
Pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, who knows?
But in general, how’s it all going?
Gabby Holmes is one of the two women who’ve founded here. Both of them have full time jobs, but run the café as volunteers every weekend (and much else of their ‘spare’ time I shouldn’t wonder).
“It’s going really well. Custom’s built up steadily and we have lots of times when we’re really busy now people are finding out about us. As well as your blog we’ve been in the Liverpool Echo, so words really getting round about what we’re doing. Food supplies are coming in regularly, though we’re always going round and talking to new places who might be able to help. And we’re always grateful for more.
We’ve also got a good lot of volunteers now, there’s always a scedule up on our website of who’s working when. But again, we can always use more help.
A couple of weeks ago we ran a special event at The Brink down in town. We called it a ‘Binner Party’ and 50 people came to an autumn themed evening. It was lovely and we’ll be doing another one, a winter one in January.”
In the week Jen works at FACT in Wood Street and loses no time in telling me how much she thinks I’d like their latest exhibition. I’ll take a look Jen!
And here’s the whole of this morning’s team.
A wonderful as well as necessary place and I recommend it to you with all my heart. In fact, maybe you’d like to volunteer here yourself? If you would get in touch through their website or sign up there to their newsletter to keep in touch.
And in the interests of fair disclosure and despite the slagging off I regularly give the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival for being pay to enter in a public park, I have to report Gabby’s delight at some of the local stall holders who’d been there donating very generously when it was all over. Well done all. This place is the collective responsibility of us all.
And don’t forget, to volunteer or keep in touch with them, go to their website.