It is time to talk junk.
When we say the word junk food to you, what does it mean? Do you think of a pack of Oreos with a laughable serving suggestion on the back that sounds more like a challenge than a recommendation or do you think about a revolutionary new campaign that has come to Liverpool? Gabby Holmes and Natalie Hughes-Crean have known each other since November and when they’re not doing their 9-5, they’re doing their 5-9, a project dedicated to feeding people with food that would otherwise be wasted. Welcome to the Real Junk Food Project, a pioneering movement to abolish avoidable food waste.
The world’s eyes are too big for their belly as shocking estimates of food waste are announced at over 30% percent of all food. Let’s put that into perspective; that is approximately 1.3 billion tonnes a year of food that is binned whilst millions die each year of starvation. That news makes us sad and angry but more than anything determined to do something. This medley of emotions was shared by Adam Smith, a former-chef and founder of the campaign who hails from Yorkshire. They opened their first cafe in December 2013 and other cafes have organically sprouted up all over the UK as a result. It has estimated all cafe’s combined have intercepted 50 tonnes of food and fed thousands and thousands of people. The scheme follows a PAYF (pay as you feel) pattern where people can contribute whatever they feel it was worth. This isn’t no soup kitchen mind, full of homeless people, they’re serving your family, friends and neighbours.
There’s a disturbing correlation between the tonnes of food we’re wasting and the amount of people having to use food banks. We’re binning more food than ever as near a million people were regularly using food banks in 2014. The market has failed. The people having to use food banks aren’t your predisposed crowd; they’re people in full time employment who are struggling to get by on a minimum wage that doesn’t quite match the living wage. Food banks offer a very short term fix but we need to come together tot think of a long-term alternative. Now that the facts and figures and history are out the way, enter Gabby and Natalie, budding junk food extraordinaires. They were understandably inspired by the story in Leeds and plan to bring this very venture to Liverpool. In just a few months they’ve held some fantastic events, have some amazing plans and hope to have their very own cafe in the coming months. It isn’t a new idea in the grand scheme of things but it is new to Liverpool and we think a number of these cafes scattered around Liverpool would be a beautiful thing.
On Valentine’s Day, Natalie and Gabby populated the bombed-out church and ended up feeding 200 people with wonderful food that otherwise would have been thrown away. They’ve dedicated every spare minute out of work to this and with the work of their volunteers, they’ve already managed to ignite something quite special. In April the search for a space begins to open Liverpool’s first junk food cafe where the menu is always food that otherwise would have been wasted. Offer a skill in return for a meal or pay whatever you feel it is worth and in turn be part of a lovely, sharing and loving community. Liverpool has food banks but we know putting a plaster on an open wound isn’t the best remedy. We’ll be helping them collect food from independents all over Liverpool in the coming weeks and we might even get in the kitchen once they’re open if they’ll let us. Due to the powerful message behind it it’d be quite easy to get overwhelmed with lethargy but they want the project to be fun.
This year promises to be an exciting year for these two incredible women who, we’re sure, won’t be short of fantastic denizens to help them out along the way. Keep up with their Facebook, Twitter and Website to be in the know with their latest events and more. Good luck to them in their mission of feeding the world, one binner at a time.