Real Junk Food Manchester has formed a partnership with housing association, Onward Homes, enabling the waste food organisation to launch the city’s first waste food catering social enterprise – Open Kitchen MCR.
The social housing provider has offered to support the cost of repairs to commercial kitchen equipment and a year rent free in their new premises.
Based in Onward’s headquarters in Didsbury, south Manchester, Open Kitchen MCR will offer a unique sustainable catering service using food that would have gone to waste. The new venture will reduce food waste, help to lower the city’s carbon footprint, and work with community and charity partners to support access to nutritious food to a range of people suffering food poverty. The project will also offer training and placements to support people in finding work in the hospitality sector.
Open Kitchen MCR will also run a waste food staff canteen for Onward Homes, which will open later this month. They will also provide a waste food lunch service to neighbouring Great Places housing association.
The new café for Onward staff will operate in a similar way to Real Junk Food Mcr’s waste food pay-as-you-feel restaurant, which operated on Oxford Street in the city centre for just under a year. The canteen will offer main meals and in-house homemade snacks to staff on a pay-as-you-feel basis. There will also be an artisan coffee service, a range of herbal and fruit teas, and a range of ethically sourced snacks, crisps, and cold drinks, all at a set price. The menu will change daily depending on what food is intercepted.
For the catering enterprise a pricing structure has been developed that means that Open Kitchen MCR can offer free and subsidised rates for catering to community and charity partners. Companies and individuals who source catering from Open Kitchen MCR will not only be getting the most sustainable catering on offer, they will also be supporting local community and charity partners.
James Hill, Property Strategy Director at Onward Homes said: “We’re pleased to support Real Junk Food Mcr and help them get this innovative enterprise off the ground. We’re also thrilled to be able to welcome them to our offices in Didsbury. Their ethos fits with ours, so it’s great to be able to support their new venture. We’re very excited about the new café which will be a great addition and I know our staff are really looking forward to it opening and trying the dishes on offer. We also hope some of Onward’s tenants will gain valuable experience in the catering and hospitality sector through volunteering and work placement opportunities.”
Corin Bell, Director of Real Junk Food Mcr & Open Kitchen MCR added: “It’s great to be able to base our new catering enterprise at the commercial kitchen at Onward Homes and operate a canteen for their staff. We’re so grateful for the level of support Onward has given us. The new venture aims to offer professional catering services to corporate and private clients, while working with community and charity partners to continue to offer access to not just enough food, but great food, to everyone who wants or needs it, regardless of income.
“The core of the project’s mission remains the same – to rescue food that would otherwise go to waste, transform it into tasty meals, and support everyone in our city in accessing great food. But the project is evolving.
“Rather than pay-as-you-feel, which operated at the restaurant, the catering venture will offer a range of pricing packages that will mean corporate customers will subsidise our work with community and charity partners. So, companies and individuals who choose our catering service will not only be choosing a sustainable option, they will also be supporting Manchester communities.”
The crowdfunder to launch the new waste food venture still has nearly £15k to raise to hit their target, with remaining funds covering the cost of the purchase of new equipment and supplies, and the development of engagement and education materials. Open Kitchen MCR launched their crowdfunding campaign on 3rd September to raise £50,000 to set up the new venture. Thanks to funding and support from Onward, the campaign has now raised over £35,000. Full details of the crowdfunder campaign, including sustainable catering packages for corporate and organisation supporters, can be found here – https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/openkitchenmcr