The founder of a quietly growing empire of social cafes has called for a change in the law in the UK to prevent “criminal” levels of food waste - especially by supermarkets - while many go so hungry. The name of this young man is Adam Smith, a 29-year-old trained chef who cooks stews, casseroles, soups and cakes with junk food, charging with a “pay what you feel” policy - letting consumers pay what they feel that they can, and if that value were zero, they can help wash.
In just 10 months he has fed 10,000 people 20 tons of unwanted food, raising about $ 46,720. The coffee shop has had such resonance in a world with high food waste and high levels of famine, that it has inspired 47 other “pay as you feel” coffee shops to flourish in recent months in Manchester, Brisol, Saltaire — with the concept exported even as far as Los Angeles and Brazil, Warsaw and Zurich.
But Smith says The Real Junk Food Project - which is in the process of being registered as an official charity - is about more than just feeding the hungry. “It's bringing people of different demographics together in something that doesn't involve money. People are opening 'Junk Food Projects' because they have had enough of what is happening in society and they worry about what is happening to other human beings, ”he says. "It is a revolution."
Smith wants the law changed to prevent supermarkets from throwing away so much food for fear of prosecution - and he wants more pressure on these companies to be forced to work with organizations like this one. Currently, a retailer can be prosecuted if it sells food after its expiration date, but not before its “best-before” date. Despite this, supermarkets across the industry regularly discard food before its "best-before-of" date and, in Smith's experience, are dismissive of working with companies like his.
"Supermarkets are a pain in the butt," says the young cook. “They don't want to have anything to do with us. Many look at us in less, a manager of a famous supermarket even spat in my face. We are breaking the law in front of their eyes. But we want to fight the law and take the fight to the general public ”.
Smith said the cafeteria regularly gets its food from some not-so-orthodox sources. "We have taken food from the garbage cans of the supermarkets regularly if we need to do so," he said. “We watch them dump it, then we go and take it out again 10 minutes later. More than 90% of the goods are in perfect condition ”.
He said that he has recently taken several caviar jars that did not expire until December 2015 from one of a supermarket garbage cans and has also served his customers salmon, oysters and even steak, in his donation cafe. However, the tide is beginning to change and Smith revealed that he is currently in talks with a national supermarket to provide food for his store.
The ‘Nando’ restaurant chain has also been “fantastic” and has agreed to help ‘Real Junk Food Projects’ throughout the country. "Now we get all of our chicken from them," Smith said, which he considers to be about 100-150 kilos of frozen chicken a week. "They have a motto of 'we will not throw away our chicken,'" he said, adding: "They give it to us because legally we will take care of it."
When asked if he was concerned about being prosecuted under the same law, the young man said: “Environmental Health came to inspect us and gave us three out of five stars. Everyone is fully aware of what we do. We want the law to be changed on the "best-before-of" dates to have better regulation - we have fed 10,000 this type of food and none have gotten sick. "
Andrew Opie, the director of the British Retail Food and Sustainability Consortium, noted that redistributing surplus food at the retail level only makes a small contribution to alleviating poverty and is not "a solution to famine in the UK" . "We currently have food poverty and excess food and retailers have proven willing to step up and ensure that excess reusable stock goes to charities and redistributive organizations across the UK."
The publication of an all-party report on hunger in Britain revealed that 4 million Britons were at risk of starvation, while another 3.5 million adults could not afford the food they needed to eat properly. The UK experienced the highest rate of food inflation in the world, the document said, rising to 47% since 2003, compared with 30.4% in the US, 22.1% in Germany and 16.7% in France.
The report added: "We believe that the fact that high numbers of people are starving in a country that wastes such amounts of food, which is suitable for consumption, is indefensible," while urging the Action Program on Waste and Resources. (WRAP its acronym in English, which stands for 'Waste and Resources Action Program') to establish that the objectives of retailers and food manufacturers are to double the proportion of surplus food that they redistribute to food assistance providers and other organizations voluntary.
After this document was published, Baroness Jenkin of Kensington sparked controversy by saying that hunger in Britain was caused in part by people not knowing how to cook. Smith agrees that more needs to be done to teach people the basics of cooking in schools.
"We cook the basics in the cafeteria because a lot of people don't know how to do the simplest things with food," he said. “I know people who think they don't know how to make a fruit salad, even though they are 40 years old. They don't understand that it's just slicing fruit and mixing it in a bowl. We have realized that there is a serious lack of basic education in the UK regarding raising awareness about food, what to do and where it comes from.
"We cook basic things, sauces, stews, casseroles, cakes, to make people eat this type of food again, in addition to being so easy to cook." A new “pay how you feel” cafeteria, which opened in Saltaire, West Yorkshire, over the weekend, ‘The Saltaire Canteen’, hopes to address this problem by providing cooking workshops to single men. He also hopes to strengthen the community with free coffee.
Andy McNab, local outreach coordinator for 'St. Peter’s Church ’in Shipley, who runs the facility, said:“ We want to unmask some of the stereotypes about people using food banks. The reality is that anyone can end up wearing one. It doesn't take anything to get into a situation where someone ends up losing their job and their connections end up weaker than previously thought, to fall into a food crisis. It can happen very suddenly ”.
Despite the success of the "revolution" of his coffee and its derivatives, Smith has encountered an obstacle - the owner of the building where he is located has offered to sell it to him. Smith, who is trying to raise just $ 201,743 to buy it and continue the project there, created a crowdfunding ad on Indiegogo, where he has already raised about $ 15,200. Smith said: "I have faith that we will raise enough money to buy the building, the foundation has not been running for that long and we have already had promises coming from everywhere."