To see pop up initiative Refuse launch its cafe and community fridge in Chester-le-Street is such fantastic news, especially for the local community. I was pleased to be able to visit and enjoy a lunch in its stylish interior which has been remodelled by volunteers over a number of months.
My own route to veganism centred around the global scandal of food waste and inequality, so the idea of a cafe using re-purposed ingredients destined for the bin has always been of interest to me. I have blogged about Refuse and other local initiatives according as I feel it is important to raise the profile of these grass roots movements. We have a responsibility in the current climate to do all we can to address the pressing issue of poverty and hunger in our communities. To see Refuse go from strength to strength in such a manner is fantastic, although it is tinged with a sadness that it is needed in the first place.
The way Refuse is operated in its cafe is slightly different to the pop ups I have been to in the past. You pay for your drinks – tea, coffee, hot chocolate and smoothies were on sale – but the food is on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis. Envelopes are given and you can give as much as you can afford without embarrassment.
We were happy to see that vegan options were offered alongside meat alternatives, as well as a choice of desserts. The menu will be subject to change depending on what is donated, but we always enjoy what is served up. I had a Roasted Vegetable Salad, while Gavin enjoyed a Chickpea and Spinach Curry.
The cafe also has an area designed for children to play in, which was lovely to see. The team have asked for suggestions on how the space can be used, and it is clear that the community is at the heart of what Refuse is about.
The Community Fridge is another brilliant addition to the cafe. I was going to take some cauliflower to make soup with but remembered I had a glut of ingredients in the fridge at home which needed to be used up already. Again, this operates on a PAYF basis.
We’re looking forward to seeing how the Refuse story develops now they have a permanent base in Chester-le-Street and a huge congratulations to all those involved. Keep an eye out on their Facebook page for ways to get involved, how the project came into being and upcoming events.
Thanks for reading,