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Newcastle’s first pay-as-you-feel cafe launches campaign to save more good food from landfill

ByThe Magic Hat Cafe

Oct 28, 2018

A community cafe fighting food waste in Newcastle is crowdfunding to get a permanent home – the city’s first pay-as-you-feel ‘food waste’ restaurant.

The Magic Hat Cafe has been running pop-up events and catering for over 3 years, but this is a cafe with a difference – all the dishes are made from food which was going to go in the bin. Now the project is ready to get their own space.

The new venue will allow the Magic Hat Cafe to save more food from landfill and feed more people. As well as helping the environment the cafe will also be a community hub, supporting other projects and providing free cooking workshops for everyone.

The Magic Hat Cafe is launching the crowdfunder with a free event on the 10th November, 3-8pm at Cobalt Studios in the Ouseburn. The event is child friendly, with kids activities, crafts, live music and of course delicious food!

There will be live music from a range of local artists and bands including Martha Hill, La Sonora Boreal, Whippet Beans, Feed the Elk and Ceitidh Mac (see online event for full line-up).

The project hopes to raise enough money to cover their running costs for the first year, including rent, fitting costs and a living wage for their chef.

The Magic Hat Cafe is the Newcastle branch of The Real Junk Food Project – a network of food waste cafes operating on a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ basis.

Pay-as-you-feel means people can pay what they want for the food, how they want. Customers decide the value of the food and donations of time and skills are welcome as well as money. This means the food is accessible to everyone, and also asks people to consider how much they value the food.

The project collects food from local shops, supermarkets, farms and other businesses. They then prepare this food into tasty, nutritious meals for the community.

The Magic Hat Cafe currently runs a weekly cafe at Byker Community Centre, every Friday 5.30-8pm. They also run a pay-as-you-feel market where people can shop for fresh, surplus produce to take home.

Duncan Fairbrother from the Magic Hat Cafe said “Over a third of the world’s food supply is currently wasted, which means a waste of all the land, water, emissions and human resources required to produce, store and transport that food. We think we need to make big changes to our food system, starting locally with how we think about food.”

The project has already saved tonnes of edible food from landfill by turning it into thousands of meals. The cafe also hosts free cooking workshops on food waste prevention and the organisers aim to engage people in conversations about food waste.

The Magic Hat Cafe is a not-for-profit organisation with a large and diverse group of volunteers who make the project possible. Ciara Barrett from the Magic Hat Cafe said “people from lots of different backgrounds come to volunteer with us for lots of different reasons, some are looking for work experience, others are students or are working full-time, but we all share a common passion for fighting food waste, feeding people and supporting our community”

Volunteers collect food, serve customers and work in the kitchen, led by the project’s head chef, Becci Maddison. The team never knows what food will be collected until a few hours before the cafe opens.

“Every week we don’t know what’s going to turn up, but we get creative as a team and we put out a great menu” said Becci.

As well as crowdfunding to raise money for their permanent home the Magic Hat Cafe has also entered into the Aviva Community Fund. The project needs votes from the public to get them into the final round and be in with a chance of receiving a grant.

You can vote for them online at avivacommunityfund.co.uk.

Donations for the Magic Hat Cafe permanent home can be made on their Crowdfunder website here. You can support them at their launch party on the 10th November, 3-8pm at Cobalt Studios, NE2 1AP. Or visit their cafe every Friday 5.30-8pm at Byker Community Centre, NE6 2DX. Visit themagichatcafe.co.uk or facebook.com/themagichatcafe for more information.