Nourish Cafe in Chichester is the country’s first food surplus cafe – it is vegan and vegetarian and cooks entirely using fresh food which it has saved from being tossed in the bin.
Going out for a meal is tricky when you’re dedicated to fighting food waste. At home you know that every part of every grocery item you’ve bought will be put to good use, and you’re in control of what goes on in the kitchen.
At a restaurant it’s still not widely accepted to ask how much food ends up in the bin. Restaurants that promise to be waste-free could be the way forward. Just look at Nourish Cafe, in Chichester, West Sussex, for an example.
Nourish Cafe is a vegan and vegetarian cafe that cooks entirely using fresh food that has been saved from being tossed in the bin.
The project was started by UKHarvest, a not-for-profit perishable food rescue operation, which collects excess food from commercial outlets and delivers it to charities, free of charge. Since getting started in March 2017, the group has grown to deliver 27,500 meals each week – saving over 705 tonnes of good food from going to landfill. And now they have opened their first cafe. The cafe’s menu changes based on the food staff are able to rescue.
The charity rescues around 7.69 tonnes of food per week from supermarkets, cafes and farms, of which 80% is fresh and perishable.
Stacey Cullen, Director of Operations at UKHarvest, said: ‘We collect the food for free and we deliver it out for free as well. ‘We have run community pop-up restaurants in places where there’s a real need – in poorer areas and places where there’s a lot of social isolation and loneliness.
‘We had been thinking for a while that we would like to run a cafe, so that we could generate income and then put all that profit back into the charity, so we can deliver more surplus food to people.’
The menu at Nourish Cafe has to adapt and change depending on what food staff can collect, but offers comfort food such as jacket potatoes with toppings, freshly made soups and a daily guest curry or chilli, and everything is vegan.
The shop offers takeaways as well as dine-in options, and if a customer brings their own container they get 50p off their meal. And as we mentioned, all the food is vegan to make it accessible to everyone.
Stacey said: ‘Most of the food we rescue is short-dated stuff that companies and supermarkets cannot put into their production processes, or that they have over-produced where demand has dropped. ‘We also collect food from catering companies and from corporate events when there is food that is still within date but would otherwise end up in landfills if we didn’t collect it. ‘The food is often fresher than we get in supermarkets, because we collect a lot directly from farms.
Can there be more cafes and restaurants like this, please?
‘It’s all about demand in farms. If stores reject their produce because it’s the wrong size or shape etcetera, then they give it to us.’ A big part of the group’s motivation in starting the cafe is the deliveries they send out to other charities. MORE: FOOD Vegetarian of a decade becomes butcher after eating a beef burger You can buy a Big Mac for just 99p from McDonald’s next week When does Costa’s Christmas menu launch?
UKHarvest currently sends free ‘recycled’ meals to over 110 charities which, Stacey says, allows those charities to save money on food and pour more funds into their causes. The organisation also educates people about how to reduce food waste and make the most of what they buy on a low budget. ‘In West Sussex alone, 60,000 tonnes of food is thrown away in household waste and 40,000 tonnes of that is still edible,’ says Stacey. ‘We’re working hard to try and help reduce food waste wherever we can, and at the same time provide food insecure people with good quality fresh produce that they can use to make healthy, nutritious meals.’
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