Catching Up With The Real Junk Food Project Doncaster

Written: Fiona Cahill
Photographed: Warren Draper

We are the Real Junk Food Project Doncaster, a pay-as-you-feel cafe run by volunteers on Scot Lane. Our ethos is reduce, reuse, recycle and we campaign to end food waste.
Originally opening as a single experimental café in Leeds in 2013, there are now 126 Real Junk Food Project Cafés around the world. We have venues in South Korea, Germany and Nigeria, with a Dubai venue about to launch. Globally, we have fed 1.1 million customers and saved more than 2,000 tonnes of food from landfill. For every tonne of food we divert to
#feedbelliesnotbins, we prevent 4.2 tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. TRJFP might be on global scale now, but here in Doncaster we are proud to be one of the first projects in this exciting and growing network.
At the heart of our mission is to tackle the global contradiction of a world plagued by food waste and starvation at the same time that 1.3 billion tonnes of food is thrown away, causing incalculable environmental damage and wasting vast natural resources. One estimate suggests that if human beings only produced the food they needed, an area the size of Mexico could be reclaimed from farming. Yet, simultaneously, some 800 million people across the planet are malnourished.
It is clear that this global issue requires systemic changes. These need work from and with the public, businesses and legislators. We are committed to engaging and educating people from our accessible town centre venue. We always aim to champion local businesses who work alongside us, to ensure edible food waste does not go to landfill.
Our café on Scot Lane proved regenerative and engaged our community. We did this by using an empty shop with the owners permission and no budget. Everything was reused and upcycled, we made it happen together as a community. There was no hot running water or heating and we faced and met every challenge. Despite this, we pulled together to win a National Industry Award for Sustainability in 2017.
We are very proud of the close working relationships we’ve forged with many other local organisations, through the redistribution of our food. We have reached women suffering domestic violence, refugees and asylum seekers and supported the Amber project, which works with street level sex workers. We work regularly with Age UK on events to ease social isolation, and hosted
a pumpkin rescue in the Frenchgate Centre.

With the help of our amazing volunteers, our café is open 5 days a week for breakfast and lunch. At the centre of our success is the mix of people, from young families to elderly visitors, who help us run the project and try our good grub. Would you like to be part of this global movement?
1. Shop and eat with us. Every breakfast or lunch you enjoy with us supports us to keep doing good.
2. Volunteer for a shift. Become part of our team and meet new friends.
3. You can donate to our crowdfunder to raise funds for a van, which will help us rescue food from more places for redistribution. We have future plans to redistribute to schools, where we can teach development goals. We want to share our example of a circular economy, and give children the opportunity to create their own projects and build a better future. We will ensure we reach families at risk of food poverty, but will go further — to empower local communities to deal with food waste and its consequences of hunger and climate change, creating systemic change.
4. Become a partner, sponsor, benefactor, or donate a skill, some time or equipment we need for our new venue. We will create a thank you wall and special page on our website.
5. We are looking for craft people and artists to work with us on the refurbishment project. We have begun some work in the arts with pop-up gallery space, live musicians at events, showcasing upcycling,
and hosting touring companies who share performances about social and environmental justice. This will continue and develop in our new venue. Contact:
therealjunkfoodprojectdonny@gmail. com 6. Spread the word. Find us online. Be part of the movement. End @TRJFPDoncaster

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