Thursday, 24 August 2017

Random Cafe Watford - Part of the Real Junk Food Project

It was fabulous to meet up with Jane Johnson once more on Wednesday 23rd August. We were aiming to meet at D20 - Games Cafe in Queens Road however our early meeting at 10:00am meant last minute change of plans to Ocean Bells Coffee Company instead, another of our great local independent coffee shops!

Jane was a delight to interview as I know how passionate she is about 'taking action' in the community and this project really does demonstrate the kind of innovation and creativity that we're going to need in the coming years.

A project led by people in the community

Basically this is a people led project. Someone (Jane in this instance), saw an idea that really resonated with her... which is a way to 'feed people rather than bins'. Huge amounts of food stocked by supermarkets goes out of date or spoils and ends up in dumps. That's right... food that is still edible after all the money spent on growing it, shipping it, storing it, displaying it... all discarded as the food is fed to the bins.

This project in simple terms, is to take this produce (from supermarkets and other sources too) and turn it into healthy, nutritious, tasty food for the community. Anyone can come along, have a delicious meal and then offer what they wish in return; 'Pay as you feel'. That might take the form of payment, services, support, publicity, referral, recommendation... or just plain old washing up!

We have seen how foodbanks have unfortunately become a vital part of food provision in our local communities, and this cafe is another project example of how when the community starts to come together we can do some pretty amazing things.

Come and get involved!

The Random Cafe starts off with a launch event on the 16th September at the Centrepoint Community Centre in Raphael Drive just off Radlett road. Others are also now organised at West Watford Community Centre in Harwoods Road.  The goal in time is to have a dedicated venue which will act as a centre for building community and that will serve food every day along with workshops and training on how to cook really nutritious food on a budget, making use of whatever is in season or available in the fridge.

What is really inspiring about projects like this and the Watford Homeless Project (Ruth Lee) is that they are not set up and controlled by the council, or the voluntary services sector... nor are they charities either. These are local people wishing to innovate and create alternative ideas for solving real problems they are passionate about... and then just getting on with the job! Judging by the volume of support and offers of help that Jane has already received she is not alone in being concerned about food, waste and sharing with others how to cook and eat better.

Projects like this have a way of spiralling into all sorts of avenues that were never envisioned at the outset. As people become aware and begin to collaborate, visibility in the community increases and others want to join in... either with existing projects like this... or go on to co-create other ideas inspired by the actions of others.

"There are so many different ways that people can join in, there really is something for everyone, it's totally inclusive", says Jane, "that's the real power of projects such as this, anyone who would like to participate and make a contribution, can".

Further information and Updates

Watford Observer story

Crowdfunding Page

Random Cafe Facebook Page
Random Cafe upcoming events

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