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We need to replace the roof on our shop & workshops so we can continue serving our community and saving edible food from landfill.
by Jane Johnson in Watford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
Random Café is community sustainability project based in Watford.
We collect food from supermarkets and food producers that would otherwise end up in landfill. Food is nearing expiry, in damaged packaging or surplus, but is all still edible. We serve the food in our popular community café at affordable prices. All food not used in our café is offered on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis in our shop.
Since 2017 we’ve grown from a once-a-week pop-up cafe, to being an established and valued part of our local community. We’ve saved 102 tonnes of food from landfill (and counting)! With the help of our Crowd, we’ve developed a fantastic home at Meriden Gardens, renovating an unloved site into a beautiful green haven.
Supporters helped us realise our dream of creating a purpose-built café and as well as using it to serve up delicious rescued food, it's used to host community events such as our popular weekly ‘crafternoon’ and sustainability workshops. We involve our community in everything we do, partnering with local voluntary groups and offering around 30 volunteering opportunities to people of all ages and backgrounds.
We’ve hit a bump in the road. The roof of our shop has become damaged. While temporary repair will keep the water out and our customers safe and dry for now, we need to replace the roof to keep our shop open for the long term so we can continue supporting our community.
Our 'pay as you feel' shop is a vital part of the work we’re doing to reduce food waste. Customers can take a full bag of food for a suggested donation of just £2. We’re known as ‘Random’ because when you visit us, there’s always a surprise. From fresh fruit and veg to a freezer meal for two – each day is different.
The shop is open three days a week and serves on average 240 customers a month – add together all the people in households using our shop and that’s nearly 2,000 people a month eating food that would have otherwise been thrown away. We’re not only helping locals do their bit to reduce food waste in our town, but as food costs increase, we’re providing local families with a way to top-up their weekly shop for just a couple of pounds.
Our shop helps us save on average 1.3 Tonnes of food from landfill each month. As well as having a positive environmental impact, we know that we’re making a real difference in our community, particularly for customers struggling with the cost of living crisis. Local families would really miss the shop if we had to close it.
It’s not just the shop that’s at risk though. The damage is also allowing water into our two workshops.
One is used by volunteers working in our community garden – a wonderful green space in the middle of the Meriden estate that’s planted with fruit trees, vegetables and plenty of bee-friendly flowers. Another group of volunteers uses the second workshop for creating upcycled garden furniture and planters. As well as helping us save even more waste from landfill, selling these products helps us raise vital funds to cover our running costs and keep serving our community.
Installing a new roof will help us keep the water out of the shop and workshops. It will offer a greater level of insulation, keeping volunteers warm, helping us reduce damp and protecting stock and equipment.
Simply put: Without a new roof, we can't keep doing what we do!
We have been so heartened by the support we’ve received from our Crowd to get us up and running at Meriden Gardens. We’re asking for your support again to help us replace the roof and keep the Random Cafe shop open.
Please make a donation today to help us continue our mission to ‘Feed Bellies, Not Bins’!
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