REfUSE is part of The Real Junk Food Project: an organic network of cafes around the UK and the world that all work on the same model: collecting food from retailers, caterers, charities, farms and wholesalers, and serving it up to the public on a “Pay As You Feel” basis. We use our events as a platform for raising awareness and understanding of food waste, and as part of the Real Junk Food Project we are a loud and lively voice for campaigning against it, at every level.
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. If you know of any food going to waste, get in touch.
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 to the #feedbelliesnotbins movement. 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 and 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 hire vans, we buy equipment and lots of other costs. Any extra money we get will go towards serving more people and saving more food. In December 2016 we completed a successful crowdfunding campaign that saw us raise £15,000 to buy a van and start setting up a full-time café.
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 waste, we couldn’t just feed specific demographics of people. We believe food we collect is absolutely fit for human consumption and so that’s who we feed – human beings.
Do you take/serve food past its expiration 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 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 labeling, 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.
See The Real Junk Food Project website for more FAQs and to find out how you can set up a PAYF project in your area.