Real Junk Food Manchester is a not for profit project. We source food that would go to waste, cook it up into awesome meals, and serve them to anyone and everyone on a pay-as-you-feel basis. We aim to stamp out food waste, campaign to make our food system fairer and more sustainable, and support some of Manchester’s most vulnerable residents.
Since May 2014 we have been doing pop-up events all over the city and beyond. We’ve run pop-up restaurants in the Northern Quarter, catered for weddings and gala dinners, made nutritious home cooked meals for residents at hostels, and lots more besides.
Now we’re ready to do something bigger! We want to open Manchester’s first waste food pay-as-you-feel cafe and restaurant. Real Junk Food Manchester is something really different for our city, it’s about inclusion, community and sustainability. We want to create a cool cafe and restaurant, where the food and atmosphere are great, a place where people want to be, where all of the meals just happen to be made from wasted ingredients, and served on a pay-as-you-feel basis.
We've identified a site just outside of the city centre where we can stay for 6 months, and that’s just the beginning. We know we might need to move about a bit before we find a permanent home, but we aren’t going to let that stop us. We’re working with a firm of kitchen designers and fitters to develop a mobile kitchen that we can move into any space that has electricity and running water, that way we can set up and serve food in any available space in the city! This means we won’t have to leave equipment behind and waste resources if we need to move about a bit. We’re also trying to source as much equipment as possible that is second hand, or that would have gone to waste… reducing waste is at the heart of everything we do.
We want to create a new social space for Manchester with a great new concept; pay-as-you-feel. At Real Junk Food Manchester, absolutely all of our meals are served on a pay-as-you-feel (P-A-Y-F) basis. P-A-Y-F means that customers can offer a financial donation to the project of what they feel a meal is worth, give whatever they can, or can recognise the value of a meal by donating their time, energy and skills to the project. We equally value contributions of money, time, energy, skills and support. The aim is to make a truly inclusive community space that will value the contribution of those who have little or no money - people before profits.
Pay-as-you-feel creates an innovative, inclusive space that deliberately bucks the recent trend towards food banks... Where people from all backgrounds are welcome, regardless of whether or not they have money. This is a conscious choice to work against the unfortunate consequence of a food bank model, where the poorest and most vulnerable in our society are segregated, often being offered little dignity or choice - everyone is welcome at our table.
Using wasted food ingredients, focussing on cooking and serving hot meals, and offering meals on a pay-as-you-feel basis means that RJFM also reverses the trend of the poorest in our city having the worst diets, and having really limited access to healthy food. By sourcing food that would go to waste, the project intercepts a huge quantity of basic, healthy ingredients, offering access to good food, and further bucking the trend of the most vulnerable in our society being offered heavily processed, tinned or dried meals.
There are currently around 8 million people in the UK who are in poverty so deep that they can’t afford enough food, let alone access healthy, nutritious food. At the same time huge amounts of perfectly edible food is wasted. We think this is bonkers, and we want to fight to change it.
Supporting our Planet
Real Junk Food Manchester is reducing food waste, and its huge environmental impacts in and around Manchester. Around 15 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK alone, and the vast majority of that food is perfectly edible. When we waste food we also waste land, water, diesel used is farming, packaging, energy to refrigerate and so much more. The lowest carbon, most sustainable thing we can do with food that is going to go to waste is put it in a belly, any belly, rather than a bin, any bin (landfill, anaerobic digestion, or compost).
Change for the better
Real Junk Food Manchester is an amazing mix of practical action and campaigning. As well as providing great meals, we raise awareness, knowledge and skills around food waste, sustainable food, and healthy diets. We want to make Manchester’s residents healthier and happier, and help to make our food system fairer and more sustainable. In our permanent home we intend to offer cookery classes, lectures, workshops, recipes and discussion. We feel strongly that if you work in a huge social and environmental problem like food waste, the only ethical end goal is to make your project no longer needed, by making the system better - This is our long term goal.
The Crowdfunder will pay for the design and production of our mobile kitchen, a bit of work to the site we are moving into next, and purchasing a small amount of furniture and equipment (we’ve begged, borrowed and upcycled as much as we can, and will continue to).
The money will also help to pay our 3 paid staff through the set up phase. So far we’ve paid our staff through income from our pay-as-you-feel events and outside catering, proving that the model can really work as a successful social enterprise. But in order to set up the new cafe space, we’ll need to stop running events for a short while and focus on setting up our new home, and that means our staff will need a bit of support too.
Because we’re trying to be as sustainable as possible some of our costs might change, for example, the cost of our mobile kitchen will depend on how much equipment we can source second hand. So, what will we do if we hit our Crowdfunder target and then don’t spend it all? We want you to decide! Once we’ve set up our cafe / restaurant, we’ll publish details of every penny we’ve spent, and if there are funds left over because we’ve upcycled as much as we possibly can, we’ll publish a range of lovely activities that we think will help people in Manchester (free meals, cookery lessons, days out for isolated residents) and the people who supported our Crowdfunder can vote for which activities they’d like to see made happen…. or tell us to do something completely different!
Please support us in moving to the next exciting phase of our project!