Tackling food waste; promoting community spirit

yourcafe the first five years

 This is how yourcafe used to be ………

It’s not just a home cooked meal that brings Kevin to yourcafe – it’s also the social aspect of the visit.

“You always get a warm welcome,” says Kevin.

“I’ve been coming here for about a year and I’ve made some great new friends. It’s a fantastic place.”

People enjoying the three-course lunch at yourcafe in Tang Hall Community Centre agree that getting out of the house for a chat is as important as the food.

Customers relish dishes such as steaming fish pie or lasagne, all served by smiling volunteers. Today’s menu includes vegetable soup with sourdough bread and olive tapenade, risotto and steak pie with apple crumble and custard or homemade coffee and walnut cake for pudding.

yourcafe

yourcafe provides the local community with a weekly lunch produced from donated surplus ‘waste’ supermarket food that would otherwise be thrown away.

Volunteers collect food each week from local businesses and shops and then work out that day’s menu depending on what’s been donated. The menu includes a starter, main (including a vegan option) and pudding with tea or coffee. It’s also provided on a ‘pay-as-you-feel basis’ – which can be anything – time, money or skills – remembering that food is valuable and so are you.

Margaret Hattam and Margaret Hogg were inspired to start yourcafe in April 2015. 

“We decided to set up yourcafe as we were both concerned about the issue of food waste in York and wanted to do something to reduce it,” says Margaret. “We also wanted a project that would benefit the local community. For us, it’s about both tackling food waste and promoting community spirit. The café is growing and today we have Tesco, M&S, The Co-op and our local Costcutter all contributing food that would otherwise go in the bin.”

yourcafe feeds between 60 and 100 people each week. In 2018, it saved a total of 30 tonnes of surplus food – enough to feed 41 people every day for a year. Diners can also take home any extra food, from bread to tinned goods and fresh veg. Nothing is wasted; anything left over is offered to parents at Tang Hall Primary School.

Volunteer Kath adds: “We get a real mix of people of all ages – the communal tables allow diners to share a meal in a relaxed and friendly environment.”

Fran is another regular diner.

“It’s the most amazing community space and a lovely way for people to meet and socialise over a fantastic three-course meal,” she says. “I try to sit at a different table every time – you meet all kinds of people.”

yourcafe also organises Luke’s Larder, a community initiative run during school holidays at St Luke’s Church on Burton Stone Lane. Food is donated by local shops and anyone is invited to take two carrier bags of groceries home in exchange for a ‘pay as you feel’ donation.   

Tonnes of waste food saved to date

Volunteers

Meals cooked