Where does the food come from?
Local shops, cafes, markets, restaurants, allotments, other charities, wholesalers, food photographers, events, small businesses…. wherever we can rescue it, wherever it really would otherwise have gone to waste.
The idea of Pay As You Feel is to challenge those who come to eat with us to re-assign value to food that has been wrongly labelled as waste. This value may not be monetary, but we want to think about the resources, time, energy and effort that went into making it. In the same way, we value every single person who comes in our doors, not by the money in their pockets but the skills, time, energy and personality they bring. Guests are encouraged to wash up, play music or blog about us to pay for their meals. It is not a free meal: running REfUSE takes a LOT of time, money and energy, so please consider what you can contribute generously.
Where does the money go?
We’re a community interest company, which means that the money we make all goes back into running the project. We pay rent, we buy petrol, we run electric vans, we buy equipment, we pay our staff to make it all happen, and lots of other costs. Any extra money we get will go towards serving more people and saving more food. We try and earn enough through projects like catering and Waste Not Boxes to fund our core work, but we still need to fundraise and receive grant funding for new projects like our education projects.
Do you feed ‘homeless people’ or the ‘needy’?
We don’t just feed ‘homeless people’, ‘the needy’, nor do we just feed refugees, or elderly people, whoever. We feed everyone. In order for us to prove the value and safety of food wrongly labelled “waste”, we couldn’t just feed specific demographics of people. We believe that food we collect is absolutely fit for human consumption and so that’s who we feed – human beings. Read more about our dilemmas with the food poverty issue here.
Do you take/serve food past its expiry date?
We adhere to all Environmental Health regulations, and have a 5* Food Hygiene rating to prove it. This includes transporting food, storing, preparing, cooking and re-heating it safely.
We intercept food that for a whole variety of reasons is unwanted and otherwise would be thrown away. This includes food past it’s Best Before date: a label only designed to signify food quality not safety. Some retailers have a new scheme where they freeze food on the day of its Use By date and give it to us, where we then keep it frozen, defrost and cook safely within a month. This is the only time we would ever serve food past it’s Use By date, and this is legal and perfectly safe.
However, we actively encourage all to not rely so heavily on date labelling, which we believe is a flawed system. Best before dates on tins of beans mean nothing. Use your own judgement on whether you believe your food is fit for human consumption or not, by smelling it, tasting it and visually inspecting it.
What’s the problem with food waste?