The Leeds cafe that has fed 10,000 people, using 20 tonnes of unwanted food – and started a worldwide movement


By Lisa Campbell
The Independent

The founder of a quietly-growing empire of social cafes has called on a change in the law to prevent the UK’s “criminal” levels of food waste – especially by supermarkets – while so many go hungry.

Adam Smith, founder of The Real Junk Food Project, in Armley, Leeds, feeds his punters on goods that would otherwise have been thrown away by supermarkets, independent grocers and food banks. The 29-year-old trained chef cooks up stews, casseroles, soups and cakes with the unwanted food, charging a “pay as you feel” policy – allowing punters to pay what they feel they can, and if that is nothing, they can help with the washing up.

In just 10 months he has fed 10,000 people on 20 tonnes of unwanted food, raising over £30,000.

The cafe has had such resonance in a world with such high food wastage and high hunger levels it has inspired 47 other “pay as you feel” cafes to spring in the past few months in Manchester, Bristol, Saltaire – with the concept even exported as far away as Los Angeles and Brazil, Warsaw and Zurich.

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After years of research and a series of unpleasant experiences concerning the current child protection services system, Alec Cope decided to combat the cancerous corruption through information. Freelance writing articles as a form of protest and distributing them throughout his former high-school and local area, Alec struck special chords with whomever he was in contact with.

Alec has been involved in activism such as sit down protests as well as Idle No More gatherings. Being independent for the majority of his time, Alec became a member of the WeAreChange family to assist one of the organizations that inspired him to become active in the first place. With a larger platform and positive support Alec has committed the majority of his time to research, writing, and maintaining social media with the goal to continue expanding the awakening sweeping throughout all levels of society.

Growing up within a rural area in Northern Michigan as well as being a native American descendant, Alec is seeking to expose environmental abuse in his state as well as globally. A high-school dropout, Alec chases his passion for writing and empowering individuals while showing any isolated person that they too can overcome the odds with a community that will support them. Alec lives in the lower peninsula of Michigan near Kalamazoo.

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