The Real Junk Food Project Edinburgh is a proud associate of the charity of the same name, founded in Leeds in 2013, and now an expanding and exciting UK-wide network of cafés and communities.

The aim of the project is to raise awareness of the issue of food waste, help people to eat and cook better and instigate change towards a more sustainable, efficient and just food system.

We intercept food before it goes to landfill. We cook it. We serve it to all comers on a Pay As You Feel basis.

Working with supermarkets and smaller retailers, farms and other producers, and consumers we try to reduce waste at all levels of the supply chain. The Pay As You Feel (PAYF) policy encourages a mixed demographic to be involved in the project, allowing the food poor and those with means to pay for their food to eat together, developing a sense of community and awareness of local food insecurity. We hope this will also get people thinking about the value of food as a resource in a different way.

TRJFP Edinburgh was set-up in January 2015 by co-directors Donna McArdle, Aileas Pringle and Charlie Hanks. We held our first pop-up event at the Union of Genius in March 2015 and continue to run a cafe there every Sunday. We also hold frequent communal dinners, often at the Edinburgh Larder or Ostara Cafe, encouraging conversation between people who would never otherwise meet. Always open to collaboration, we have also catered for events around Edinburgh with various environmental organisations and charities, festivals, weddings and birthday parties.

The staff are volunteers and we will always welcome more. We provide training opportunities, as well as cooking workshops for a more general purpose.

We hope in the long-term for such projects to be commonplace, creating training programmes to help local communities set up their own community cafes based on a similar ethos. Rather than eliminating ‘waste’ from the food system, we aim to build a resilient alternative system which deals with surplus sustainably and in which people are no longer consumers but food citizens, actively and confidently managing their food choices.

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