The community cafe making a meal of Britain’s dumped food

The community cafe making a meal of Britain’s dumped food

What a brilliant  and fantastic use of food that normally goes to waste. Even when the food is bought and brought home by people around 40% of the food will not get eaten. Some will be simply left to long in the house and go out of date and then be thrown into the bi. The other waste is the amount of food cooked for one sitting then just scrapped into the bin.

We are all guilty of it but in our household we try to use and then reuse what ever we have. Only last week we had Beef brisket for or Sunday dinner and with the beef that was left on the Tuesday I made beef ragu adding only to it a tin of tomatoes, 1 onion, 1 garlic bulb and a few herbs (oh and half a glass of red wine) served with pasta. A meal for four people that cost less than 50p each.

As parents it is always to easy just to give the kids what they want in convenience  foods and we are creating a society of fussy, demanding, uncompromising and unhealthy children.

The community cafe

It is 5pm on Thursday and as with every week at the St Christopher’s Church Hall in Sneinton, Nottingham, an orderly queue is beginning to form.

There are single mothers with toddlers, disabled adults and children, and elderly residents who otherwise would be eating at home alone. Delicious smells of pan-fried chicken fillets, home-made ragout and a vegetable and bulgur wheat stew emanate from the kitchen serving hatch.

The cafe was established three years ago last July by Steven Doig, who lives in the economically deprived Nottingham city centre suburb. Initially the former pub chef did so as a means of coping with a crippling depression following the death of his 13-year-old son, Jordan.


Everybody looks hungry and happy to see each other in equal measure. Whatever is on the menu, their favourite meal of the week is soon to be served.

Steven discovered the teenager hanging from his bunkbed by a mobile phone lanyard in June 2008 (a coroner later recorded a verdict of accidental death). The 45 year-old, who has four other boys with his wife, Cristy, says the tragedy drove him into a spiral of drink and despair.

At his lowest ebb, Steven estimates he was drinking two litres of brandy every day. But after being warned by doctors he would lose his pancreas if he continued, he decided to face up to his demons.

Having always enjoyed cooking he set up his own community cafe in the church hall called Growin Spaces. It would have been a pipe dream, he says, were it not for the fact he could sign a contract with the food waste charity FareShare to provide him with the food required to make the cafe a reality.
The community cafe
Now Steven receives fortnightly deliveries from FareShare – which the Telegraph is backing in this year’s Christmas charity appeal – of food which otherwise would have been ground into animal feed, burnt for energy or simply dumped. At present he uses what he is given to feed around 70 adults and children of all colours, creeds, needs and backgrounds each week. A fortnight ago he recorded his busiest ever night.

“This surplus food is breaking down barriers, making people talk, battling loneliness, depression and hunger,” Steven says as he piles up another customer’s plate. “We have families on very low incomes but they can come here and eat out as a family of four for less than £10.”

Last year FareShare redistributed 13,552 tonnes of otherwise unwanted food to 7,000 frontline charities, including homeless and domestic violence shelters, breakfast and lunch clubs for young and old, mental health clinics and drink and drug rehabilitation centres and countless other small yet vital causes such as the Growin Spaces community cafe.


Currently, FareShare estimates it feeds a staggering 500,000 vulnerable people nationwide in this manner every single week and at the same time saves the charities it works with – many of whom are already plugging shortfalls in local authority funding – £30m a year.

The community cafe



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