Cooking up good: 5 projects making quality food affordable

Tom Lawson

From the ‘pay as you feel’ cafes transforming surplus food into feasts, to a restaurant that provides homeless people with fine dining – our pick of five projects that are democratising good food

1. Espresso yourself

The Real Junk Food Project, global

A bowlful of repurposed surplus eats at a Real Junk Food Project cafe. Image: Thom Urdell

Turning organic food destined for the bin into tasty grub, the Real Junk Food Project serves up a generous portion of culinary democracy too. Customers visiting its 40 ‘pay as you feel’ cafes receive no bills, instead paying as little or as much as they can afford.

2. Hearty fare

Robin Hood, Spain

Homeless people in Madrid are waited on in style at the Robin Hood cafe. Image: Sheila Sund

By day, Madrid’s Robin Hood is a cafe like any other, serving up typical Spanish dishes to paying customers. But after hours, owners use profits to fund free dining experiences for homeless people, complete with waiter service, tablecloths and flowers.

3. Another one bites the crust

Social Bite, Scotland

Social Bite, ‘a sandwich shop with a difference’, donates all profits to social causes

Stumble, bleary-eyed, into a Social Bite pay-it-forward cafe and you can help someone in need while your latte brews. Choose anything, pay, and a homeless person can claim your slice of kindness. Across five outlets, 150 homeless people are served every day. A quarter of staff were previously homeless too.

4. Healthy competition

Everytable, US

Everytable’s meal prices reflect how much customers can afford. Image: Gina Cella

This for-profit healthy restaurant chain has a tasty plan: pricing meals depending on where they’re sold. Customers in low-income neighbourhoods pay around half as much as their wealthier counterparts. Everytable has three restaurants in LA – and will have four in May.

5. No missed steak

Project Hand-in-Hand, Malaysia

Some Singaporean households are able to swap time helping their community for fresh, healthy food

This social enterprise has a solution for those without much cash to splash on groceries. Low-income householders in Singapore can pick up healthy goods from supermarkets in exchange for volunteer time, doing things such as keeping their street tidy or teaching a neighbour a new skill.

Featured image: volunteer servers at a Real Junk Food Project cafe by Thom Urdell


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  • AlphaLady777

    Homeless people beware. These “free soup kitchens” are serving food that is up to “ten years out-of-date.” According to soup kitchen managers — it is perfectly legal. Ask to see their guideline chart! Old food contains mycotoxins, afflatoxins, botulism cultures, mold spores, and other dangerous poisons — which are placing already vulnerable people at risk of early mortality and death. Agenda 2030 Depopulation Program?? Probably…………..

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