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The Pop Up Restaurant that REfUSEs to Let Food go to Waste

The Pop Up Restaurant that REfUSEs to Let Food go to Waste

The Pop Up Restaurant That REfUSEs to Let Food Go to Waste

The Real Junk Food Project is a group of organisations working together to tackle the problem of food waste. Businesses, caterers, and activists are striving to change the food system in the UK.

REfUSE is the County Durham branch of the project, and they run pop-up restaurant events on the last weekend of every month in cafes around the city. They take food that is about to be thrown away and make it into healthy and satisfying meals.

The problem of food waste

About 40% of the food produced globally is left to rot, or dumped in landfill, which is scandalous in a world where 800 million people don’t have enough to eat. Reasons for this unbelievable amount of waste include overproduction, damaged packaging, aesthetic reasons, seasonal packaging, and a lack of understanding about best before dates.

In the UK alone, we waste 15 million tonnes of food every year, and the food system makes it worse. It encourages us to throw perfectly good food away.

What do REfUSE do?

As well as the pop-up restaurant, they run education and awareness events about the impact of food waste, and they help to build a community around their events.

‘Pay As You Feel’

The restaurant does accept cash payments, but people can pay for their meals by donating their time or skills. Some people play instruments as a way of paying for their food, and some people help with the washing up.

No Food Waste

Their ethos

REfUSE recover and reuse food before it gets thrown away. They believe that the food system is wasteful and people need to relearn the value of food, and what best before dates really mean.

Where do they get the food from?

To date, they have saved 1.6 tonnes of food from being thrown away, and they have served 1,430 meals. In the week before they hold a pop-up event, they collect food from cafes, market stalls, and retailers that would have otherwise ended up in landfill.

Why did REfUSE start?

One of the people who set the project up used to work in a hotel, and she saw how much food was thrown away at the end of her shift. At the time, she was also volunteering at a Salvation Army hostel and it got her thinking about how much food was being wasted while there were people going hungry.

She uses the project as a platform for wider campaigning on food waste, and she has the attention of business leaders and politicians.

They even catered for a wedding!

One Durham couple asked REfUSE to cater for their wedding, and saved some perfectly good food from the bin in the process. The final menu was a bit of a lottery, as it would depend on what food REfUSE managed to collect, but in the end, they had soup for the starter, curry for the main meal, and chocolate cake for dessert.

The project hopes to change the best before and general food label system which they say is fundamentally flawed.

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