The team that brought us Real Junk Food Manchester, the city’s first waste food pay-as-you-feel restaurant, is now working to open the city’s first waste food catering social enterprise. And they’re launching a Crowdfunder campaign to raise the £50,000 needed to help set it up.
Called Open Kitchen MCR, the new venture, based in Chorlton, will partner with a social housing provider, and is sited in a currently unused commercial kitchen within their offices.
Real Junk Food was open for 50 weeks on Oxford Street, and in that time stopped 34,339 kilos (or just over 34 metric tonnes) of food from going to waste. The pay-as-you-feel restaurant, which closed earlier this month, served 29,128 meals to people from all walks of life.
Open Kitchen MCR will offer a range of outside catering services, all using food that would otherwise go to waste, including hot meals, buffets and canapés. The new venture will offer 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.
“We’re amazingly proud of having opened and operated Manchester’s first waste food pay-as-you-feel restaurant for a year,” said director Corin Bell. “We’re sad that our time in this temporary site has come to an end, but 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, Open Kitchen MCR will offer a range of pricing packages that will mean corporate customers will subsidise their 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,” said Corin.
She also hopes the new venture will double the amount of food they’re able to rescue from going to waste, and help to lower the city’s carbon footprint.
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.
“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,” said Corin.
“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.”
They also hope to help more 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,” said Corin.
“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.”
The new initiative will help provide more opportunities for people to access training and get back to work, too.
“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,” said Corin.
“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 have become marginalised.
“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.”
Later this month, the team will be launching a Crowdfunder campaign to raise £50,000 to support the new venture, with rewards for those who help.
“We’ve found the space, and 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,” said Corin.
“We need to fix up a large commercial kitchen, replace some pieces of kit, buy smaller equipment needed to run a catering business, and get some education, engagement and marketing materials designed and made.
“We need your help to do it.”
Crowdfunding for the new project launches on Monday 3rd September 2018 at midday.