Every Sunday morning, a quiet kitchen in Stoke’s Croft is warmed up by the ovens and brought alive with the sounds of chopping and food chat. The evening before, half of the team have been raiding Bristol suburbia to find food in skips – food that would otherwise be thrown out. What do they do with this food? They put it in bags and take it back to the kitchen, cook up a meal and open their doors to people to come in and eat on a pay as you feel basis (PAYF). Skipchen is part of a nationwide project called the Real Junk Food Project and also works as an ongoing campaign in detailing and recording the amount of waste that just a small demographic of supermarkets can produce.
[title above=”” h1=”false” center=”true”]Ready Steady Cook[/title]
Early on Sunday morning (ok, so 11.30 isn’t early but it feels really yawny because of it being a Sunday) and part of the core setup team, Rob, Sam and Katie are de-bagging food, weighing up food, sectioning it into different trays depending on it’s food group and ofcourse chopping veg. It feels like a makeshift episode of Ready Steady Cook as we paw over the rustic looking cheese, bread and salute the box of eggs with only one broken egg it. Eggs are like gold dust. There are reoccurring ingredients such as potatoes, bread and carrots which the team are familiar with by now, their recipes are inspired by the ingredients they have on the day. I felt a little bit like Ainsley Harriet when I asked them what they were going to make with today’s food, a shepherds pie for the meat eaters and some kind of veggie tart for the non-meat eaters. (A huge pack of pastry made the tart possible.)
It all boils down to luck of the draw but Skipchen also receive food donations from surrounding businesses as well as any surplus amounts of food from Food Cycle. Food Cycle are another fantastic group of people doing things nationwide across the country by working with local businesses to take food that is out of date off their hands, by the power of bike and sheer energy Food Cycle rely on volunteer support to cook for large events and of course their legendary three course meal on Sundays. Skipchen also donate food themselves to Phoenix Cafe at the bottom of the Pithay in Bristol City centre – you should pop in and say hello to Helen and Annie.
[title above=”” h1=”false” center=”true”]Gourmet food[/title]
I had the shepherd’s pie with roasted veg and it was delicious. If it wasn’t for the fact that there was a neverending queue, I would have dived in for seconds.. that beetroot, was amazing. Crazy to think that without the Skipchen intervention, this food wouldn’t have been on my plate.
There was a real mixture of people here which highlighted that pay as you feel cafe’s aren’t just for the poverty stricken or homeless, food is expensive and if you’re living on anything below minimum wage then sometimes living costs strip people of a decent meal. Food poverty is a real issue and it’s happening right under our noses, possibly the house next door. I loved the community vibes as we sat round in Crofters (genuinely my favourite pub for the impeccably friendly bar staff and the Hefe wheat beer)
It’s hard to explain just how popular this place was on Sunday, people were tentatively waiting for the kitchen to open. My friend Jade has mentioned to me how she’s seeing food waste articles/TV features everywhere now, it really is causing a huge ripple both nationwide but also on a community level right here, in Bristol.
If you’re spare of time and you’re looking for more purpose at your weekends instead of lie ins and Saturday kitchen, be in a real life kitchen and pop down and say hi to the Skipchen guys. They serve lunches every day, including a Sunday feast and a Monday evening dinner. Volunteering is really casual but if you do sign up, please stick to your word as reliable volunteers help serve hungry bellies in that hour of need.
[title above=”” h1=”false” center=”true”]Sustainable Restaurant Award[/title]
It’s inspiring to see the pay as you feel approach and re-cycling waste food into perfectly decent and edible food. The Real Junk Food Project has been running for over a year up in Leeds and the stats are insane:
- They stopped TWENTY THREE tonnes of food going to waste
- More than 10,000 people fed
- Giving over 200 volunteers the drive to get involved
Skipchen are making a similar impact in Bristol, pushing the boundaries on what’s legal and illegal. Sam summed it up in a nutshell in the video below, with food wastage and rummaging through skips, just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it – and I wholeheartedly agree with this, large corporations are completely restricted by red tape leaving the words ‘food waste’ lingering like a bad and unwanted smell. This needs to change.. YOU can help by putting the Real Junk Food Project as your selection for The Sustainable Restauarant Award.
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Still not convinced? WATCH THIS VIDEO!