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Revolutionary concept café in Leeds secures its future


The Real Junk Food Project has completed the purchase of its first commercial premises in Armley, Leeds, securing the future of what was the first “junk food café” in the UK to open its doors to the public at the end of 2013.

The Real Junk Food Project is the brainchild of Adam Smith, an experienced chef who, whilst in Australia in 2013, witnessed first-hand the amounts of fresh produce being fed as waste to farm animals.  Determined to deal with this issue and with a desire “to really feed the world” Adam established the first real junk food café in Chapel Lane, Armley, Leeds.  Since that time the idea has spread rapidly. Cafes in Yorkshire can be found in Leeds, Saltaire, York, Doncaster and Sheffield.  There are now some 40 cafes with many more being established both in the UK and overseas – including most recently in Berlin and Cape Town.

The idea behind the project is to take food that would otherwise be regarded as being “waste” and that would have gone to landfill and make it available to consumers at cafés on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis.

Food is taken from a variety of sources - farmers, wholesalers, other restaurants, markets, consumers and even food photographers. Commercial suppliers to the project have seen the benefits of the concept as their landfill tax costs can be significantly reduced by partnering with the project.

Commenting on the deal, Adam Smith said: “I am immensely proud of what we have achieved so far.  Being able to secure this property in which a community has developed over the past 18 months is a real achievement. It remains a scandal that about one third of all food grown goes to waste and that collectively we have been doing little about it until now.

We are not about poverty, we are about food waste. It is our intention to be out of business within 5 years – by substantially eradicating the huge amounts of food waste currently going to landfill sites.”

Martin Geldard, of Leeds-based Geldards Coaches from whom the project bought the property said: “We are pleased they have bought the building. I think they do a fantastic job by using food that was going to get thrown away.”

Duncan Milwain, who heads the multi-disciplinary team at solicitors Lupton Fawcett advising the Real Junk Food Project, said: “As head of our Charity and Social Enterprises Group, I was very interested from the outset in what Adam had to say.  I originally advised on the set up of the social enterprise in November 2013. I was so impressed I decided in mid-2014 to establish a café run on the same principles in Saltaire, Bradford. Lupton Fawcett has supported me throughout. These cafes represent sustainable businesses with a social purpose - providing employment and training opportunities, good food available to all and a reduction in needless waste.

I would urge those who have not yet visited a Real Junk Food café to do so – you will be surprised by what you see.” 

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