A COMMUNITY enterprise feeding the needy is fighting poverty and preventing Solihull’s waste from going to landfill.
The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP), which operates Hobs Moat Community Cafe, intercepts waste from supermarkets and fast food restaurants.
It collects food which has been discarded or is past its best-before date and can safely be eaten.
The project’s community cafes and food boutiques then re-sell produce on a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ basis.
This means people can pay for food by donating their time, skills or money.
The company says common ways to pay are cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry or litter picking.
Project chiefs claim they are providing a social space for vulnerable people to eat, socialise and volunteer.
They also say they are combating ‘rising food poverty in Solihull’.
Solihull council has commended the community interest company, saying the relationship between it and food retailers is mutually beneficial, as sending food to landfill is expensive.
A community interest company is a ‘for-profit’ enterprise which seeks to use its revenue for public good.
Birmingham region project co-director Dibah Farooqui said: “After a local consultation with the community of Hobs Moat we at TRJFPBirmingham were contacted.
“The people of Hobs Moat felt that there was a need for a community cafe as there are few community facilities in the area for people to use, especially those with disabilities and vulnerable older adults.
“The cafe is a safe space for anyone to come and eat and get involved with the project.
“We provide a welcoming, social space run entirely by volunteers and a garden where any food we cannot use can be composted to grow our own.
“Many of our volunteers have disabilities and have not volunteered before.
“We see an increase in self-esteem and self-worth as they are valued – without their time and skills the cafe could not run.”
The community cafe is open on Thursdays at St Mary’s Church Hall, Hobs Meadow, Solihull, but hopes to open more regularly and expand in the borough.
Green Party councillor Max McLoughlin said: “It’s important that we support businesses that make contributions back to the community.
“Waste and hunger both need addressing and this project aims to do both.
“I hope supermarkets and residents follow the council in offering their support to the project”.
The company’s network has over 130 projects and 60 pay-as-you-feel cafés worldwide.
Its Birmingham network says it has rescued over 15 tonnes of wasted food and serves over 2,000 meals every month.