Transition Bro Gwaun’s surplus food project has, as its main aim, the reduction of carbon by preventing food going to landfill and by turning it into longer life products using low carbon catering methods. Many surplus food projects exist around the UK – Foodcycle, Fare Share and other food banks – but we don’t know of another project quite the same as ours.
Most food banks deal mainly in ambient food, whereas Transition Cafe makes meals and preserves mainly from products with a short shelf life e.g. fruit, vegetables, dairy, bakery and a small amount of meat. These need to be processed very quickly once shops and wholesalers pass them on to us, and as a local initiative collecting mostly within a 4 mile radius, we are able to do this. So what we produce is more varied and healthier than can be cooked using only ambient food. We are also keeping food miles to a minimum – something which large centralised waste food systems cannot do.
At present, all our surplus food comes from local shops, wholesalers and local people who have gluts of fruit and veg. A range of both perishable and non-perishable items such as herbs, spices, dairy, coffee, teas, flour, sugar, rice and pasta – the group sources and pays for.
We have worked very hard to reduce concerns about the safety of using surplus food by developing food safety procedures and training programmes for our volunteers, and we are proud that we have recently achieved a 5 star rating from Environmental Health.
The cafe is also a community resource – and an example of community resourcefulness. The refurbishment of the building was only made possible by the generosity of many local individuals and organisations and it is now run by a team of 30+ volunteers. We have an Environment Wales Development Officer who works with us on our plans to develop the project, e.g. running community events on reducing food waste and low carbon cooking and becoming a self sustaining social enterprise.
Transition Cafe has been open to the public 3 days per week since the beginning of June. In the first four weeks we achieved the following:
Surplus food acquired and kept from landfill – approx 100 kilos per week
Food cooked and sold in the cafe or swapped, or given away – approx 50 kilos per week
Food sent for composting – approx 50 kilos per week
Number of visitors to Transition cafe – 243
Volunteer hours inputted into the project – 416.50
New volunteers recruited – 4 plus expressions of interest from 2 people
Transition cafe has just received a 5 star rating from Environmental Health. Six volunteers and 1 staff member will undertake Level 3 – Supervising Food Safety in Catering training this July. Recently recruited volunteers will receive Level 2 Food Hygiene training in the autumn.
Consultants from WRAP are providing advice on improving our recycling systems, and developing our marketing strategy.
A researcher (WCVA intern) is undertaking a 3 month evaluation of our carbon usage and will produce a report suggesting ways of reducing it. We are employing a job seeking local graduate, on a sessional basis, as a cook and are seeking to apply to the Jobs growth Wales scheme, with the aim of employing one or two young people on a more permanent basis.
In addition, we are planning to set up a pilot project to run during the school holidays to assess the viability of providing meal vouchers to be used in Transition cafe by families with younger children on low incomes. This is to be supported financially by local charities and funding organisations. The West Wales Credit Union holds sessions on Thursdays from 11 am – 1 pm; we also hold PATCH (Pembrokeshire Action to Combat Hardship) food parcels and accept their luncheon vouchers.
For information about Transition Bro Gwaun and its activities call in at TRANSITION CAFE, 32A High Street Fishguard, SA65 9AR; phone 01348 872019; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.transitionbrogwaun.org.uk