Gabby first became interested in the food network in Leeds. As a university student there, she volunteered at STAR and Bridge the Gap, teaching English to refugees and spending time with the aged in care homes. Travelling after graduation gave her an insight into how people were able to not only survive, but be happy with the little they had. She was taken with the sense of community and willingness to help one another she witnessed. Once home, Gabby began to think about the contrast she saw in Liverpool, the amount of food wasted and the very different attitudes towards it in the UK. Whilst a volunteer at the Liverpool food bank, a friend posted information about The Real Junk Food Project in Leeds. In July 2014 Gabby contacted Adam Smith, co-founder of the project and asked if there was a Liverpool branch she could get involved with. Adam’s response was, “Do you fancy starting something? “Whoop!” thought Gabby and off she went, setting up a Facebook group.
Natalie began working part-time kitchens when she was 15, but moved to front of house roles in bars and restaurants when she was 18 and started university. A teaching student in Leeds, she kept her enthusiasm for food and drink throughout study and after qualification, working pat-time in hospitality in order to pay her way; entertaining friends and family whenever possible. As a volunteer with The Pilion Trust one NYE in London, the realisation came that she could make a difference in other aspects of people’s lives and saw the need of those who were food insecure. Through her teaching and volunteering, she was distressed to see that such a basic need as food remained inaccessible for so many. It wasn’t until she heard about The Real Junk Food Project, Leeds that she made a connection between food insecurity and food waste. Returning to Liverpool in Sept 2014, Natalie looked for volunteer work and was excited to see a Facebook page for the project in Liverpool.
How did they meet?
The ladies met for a cuppa and immediately bonded over a shared enthusiasm of a great cause. Their first meeting was in November 2014 and a lot has happened since then.
What do they want to do?
- Reduce food waste in the city and provide healthy meals for anyone who wants to eat it by having a PAYF café and having a permanent site that can come to.
- Spread the PAYF word and develop a model without an emphasis on financial payment. What can you do to help? Can you cook? Give some of your time? Collect food? Wash windows? Do some DIY?
- Educate the public on how to reduce food waste. How much food did you throw away last week? How else could you have used it? Could somebody else have used it? Let’s get in to schools and communities to educate people from the ground up so that they have the understanding and the power to make a difference.
- Reduce food waste on a national and global scale. There is a huge amount of food waste being created every day and yet every day, people are going hungry. We have the power and a duty to change that.
What are their goals?
- Find a permanent site and develop a volunteer network.
- Develop the Pay As You Feel (PAYF) model.
- Make contacts and connect with businesses who will support the PAYF concept.
- Tackle the stigma around ‘waste food’/fear of sell by dates/over sensitivity to media scare tactics.
- Encourage consumers to trust their common sense when it comes to knowing if food is ‘bad’ or ‘off’ and step away from the abundance of processed foods.
- Remind people to recognise the value of fresh produce and not waste it.