The team that brought you Manchester’s first waste food pay-as-you-feel restaurant (Real Junk Food Manchester), is now working to open our city’s first waste food catering social enterprise, and we’re calling it… Open Kitchen MCR.
The aim…. to stop even more food from going to waste, to make even more great meals for anyone and everyone in our city, and to help even more people to gain skills and experience in catering and hospitality!
Open Kitchen MCR will offer a range of outside catering services, all using food that would otherwise go to waste, including hot meals, buffets, canapés and much more. The new venture aims to offer professional catering services to corporate and private clients, while working with community and charity partners to continue to offer access to not just enough food, but great food, to everyone who wants or needs it, regardless of income.
The core of the project’s mission remains the same - rescue food that would otherwise go to waste, transform it into beautiful meals and dishes, and support everyone in our city in accessing great food. But that mission is evolving. We’re amazingly proud of having opened and operated Manchester’s first waste food pay-as-you-feel restaurant for a year, and we’re ready to do more!
The new venture will use a different type of economic sharing model. Rather than pay-as-you-feel, which operated at the restaurant, the new venture will offer a range of pricing packages that will mean corporate customers will subsidise our work with community and charity partners. So, companies and individuals who choose our catering service will not only be choosing a sustainable option, they will also be supporting Manchester communities.
Manchester’s first waste food pay-as-you-feel restaurant was open for 50 weeks, and in that time we stopped 34,339 kilos (or just over 34 metric tonnes) of food from going to waste, and served 29,128 meals to people from all walks of life across our city.
Why take the plunge into catering?
Lowering our city’s carbon footprint;
Opening a new larger venture will allow us to rescue even more food from being wasted! For every tonne of food that we stop from going to landfill, we stop 4.2 tonnes of CO2e from being emitted. Food waste rotting in landfill releases huge amounts of methane, which is 25 times worse for climate change than carbon dioxide. The lowest carbon, most sustainable thing we can do with food that will otherwise go to waste is put it in a belly, not a bin.
A recent study by the UN FAO showed that the carbon footprint of wasted food currently stands at 3.3 gigatonnes, which means that if food waste was a country, it would be the 3rd highest carbon emitter on the planet after the US and china!
Helping businesses and organisations to lower their carbon footprint;
The catering offer from Open Kitchen MCR will be unique in our city and will be the lowest carbon, most sustainable catering it’s possible to order! By offering this service we will be able to help more businesses and organisations in Manchester and beyond to lower their carbon footprints and make more sustainable choices around food.
Supporting vulnerable people across the city;
We have LOVED running the Real Junk Food Manchester restaurant, but are very aware that not everyone can get into the city centre. By starting a catering social enterprise we will be able to produce more meals, and work with charity and community partners to provide more meals to more people across the city.
Supporting more people to access training and to get back into work;
Over the last year running the restaurant, and for 18 months before that as a pop-up operation, we have worked with literally hundreds of volunteers. Working in a fixed location in our city centre restaurant has allowed more people to come and volunteer with us, and has allowed us to start to work with support organisations from around the city-region to offer volunteer placements. We have become aware that we are in a unique position to offer vocational training and back to work support. We want to build on this and offer more structured training and support to people who are struggling to find work. We believe that we can help more people to train, learn new skills, build confidence and find work in the food, drink and hospitality sector.
Trialling new innovative projects;
Having a larger commercial kitchen will allow us to develop a range of pilot projects around reducing food waste, supporting vulnerable adults with more nutritious meals, training and skills, and much more.
What will the money be used for?
We’ve found the space, a currently disused commercial kitchen in South Manchester. As ever with our team we’re stamping out waste, upcycling, making do and mending where ever we can. We’re taking on a disused commercial kitchen and bringing it back into action. The funds raised will be used to;
- Fix up a large commercial kitchen
- Replace some pieces of equipment that are beyond repair
- Buy smaller equipment needed to run a catering business safely
- Get some education, engagement and marketing materials designed and made
We hope that you will agree that this is something incredibly positive for our city, and we hope we have proven through the Real Junk Food Mcr restaurant that we can make it work!
Help us build the next phase of our waste food venture, and be part of team Open Kitchen MCR.
Full details of our "Sustainable Catering Packages" can be found HERE.