The Real Junk Food Project (RJFP) is encouraging supermarkets to give their excess food to cafés instead of throwing it out. The initiative is part of a growing movement in the UK to reduce food waste in the country. With this project, a surplus of food can be turned into profit instead of ending up in the garbage.
There are already many projects that deal with food waste, but they mostly end up in food banks or free soup kitchens. While the charities benefit a lot from it, the excess food gathered from supermarkets can also be used in restaurants. Instead of buying more ingredients and contributing to the food waste, cafés and restaurants can help reduce their environmental footprint by changing up their inventory.
The project aims to reduce food waste by targeting the foodservice industry. It was originally set up in 2013 by chef Adam Smith, and since then, there have been 127 cafés using food waste from supermarkets. There are also several “social supermarkets” that serve as storehouses and distributors of surplus food. Soon enough, the RJFP initiative has spread throughout the country. Each café hosted has a “pay-as-you-feel” policy—meaning you just pay however you can to help the initiative, or you can volunteer with your time. Sharehouses function the same way, and the project encourages cafés to get creative with the ingredients they find.
What’s even more interesting is that these cafés don’t serve dishes that look like they were created from food waste. Many cafés serve high-quality dishes that celebrate the ingredients they are made of. Great examples of the RJFP are cafés in Brighton. These certified cafés serve dishes such as homemade apple tarte tatin, banana bread, and many kinds of soups. They won awards of gold and silver in the Brighton and Hove food and drink awards for 2018. The city hosts RJFP cafés four days a week and has even opened their own social supermarket, The Hub.
The RJFP is one of many projects in the UK right now that is tackling the food waste issue. With initiatives happening on both the profit and non-profit sectors, real change can actually happen. No food is actual junk; you just need to be creative with the way you prepare them.