First, some background. This café and social enterprise 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 of 2014. 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.
It’s been a while since this blog caught up with Natalie and Gabby of The Real Junk Food Project Liverpool. But I have stayed in touch with them and was glad to get an email recently outlining their plans for the future.
So here are Natalie and Gabby in their own words:
“Our project started in October 2014. We began by telephoning around local businesses and catering for other people’s events, dreaming of one day saving enough money to have a space of our own. Riverside approached us in 2015 with an opportunity to use their kitchen and storage space up at Everton Brow. Since then, we’ve been running a weekend café in Everton and operating as a pop-up for our quarterly Binner parties.
Thanks to all of volunteers who came in to help out, giving up weekends and getting stuck in. Your help has been invaluable along our journey and we have met wonderful people along the way. We have spent almost a year operating as a café and during that time fed lots of people and saved an enormous amount of food from landfill. We’re incredibly proud of how far we have come, but we’ve only scratched the surface of the problem. We want to do more. We want to save more food from landfill and feed more people.
When we say ‘we’, we refer to the collection of wonderful humans that are part of this collective. We must remember the we is really all of us, we are all part of this together! Every person who has offered his or her time, skills, advice, creative ideas, food, networking, positivity, energy has brought us to where we are.
Over the past few months we have been less active and quieter than you may have known us. We took a much needed rest over the Summer to take a look at how the project has grown and developed. As we move into our third year with the project, we have ideas of how the project can further evolve in our wonderful City.
The rest over the last couple of months was much needed and it has given us time to recoup, regroup and think about how to move forward. We have a space: we are really lucky to have a great kitchen at Shaw St. They have kindly agreed to allow to carry on using the space as a base and storage.
We want to create something that is sustainable so have decided to operate in three ways:
1. Monthly shared cooking events at Shaw St where people can join us for a group cook off and take meals away with them on a PAYF basis.
2. Pop – up events around city, catering at different venues e.g. stalls/Binner parties/markets.
3. Hired catering events.
Our main purpose of reducing food waste remains the same. We want to do this by continuing to feed the community, create a group which brings people together and tackle food poverty.
Tell your friends, keep an eye out for us around the city. Show your support and come along to cook with us.
We are filling our calendar with catering gigs because more events mean a more sustainable project. Are you planning a conference, a party, a shindig or a jamboree?
Contact us – email@example.com
We wish you peace, happiness and Junkfood love x”
So here we are then, on the last Saturday in November 2016 to see Real Junk Food Liverpool redefine themselves at the first of their new shared cooking events, a Community Cook Off.
Something like twenty five people have turned up on a cold and misty November afternoon and, it has to be said, are having a great time ‘intercepting food that would otherwise be wasted.’
The singer is a volunteer here and tells me his rock’n’roll name is Johnny Handsome!
Discussing the ingredients of this Luca comes out with the best line of the day, when he says “I don’t like onions, I disagree with them as a concept!”
All of us Paying As We Feel. And I nearly don’t get any with taking all of these photographs! But generous Luca gives me half of his. Thank you Luca.
Such a great day and a brilliant start for Phase Two of something essential, The Real Junk Food Project Liverpool.
Well done everyone who took part. It was such a pleasure to be with you.
Go on, let’s really feed the world.