Story by Amy Palmer
Photos by Marek Payne
Next to the giant Tesco near Spital Hill you will find a very different sort of grocery shopping. Sheffield’s Real Junk Food Project has had its logistical hub here for a year now and aim to combat food waste but are facing a lack of generosity in return for their hard work.
The project distributes food thrown away by supermarkets from here to its cafes, catering partnerships and innovative children’s market stalls where school children sell fruit and veg to their parents at cheap prices – and then hopefully agree to eat their greens later. Finally, food that is urgently needed to be used is sold for donations in their sharehouse market.
While not exclusively targeting people in need they are keen to be accessible to everyone. They recognise the common concern of ‘I don’t want to be the person that goes to the food bank’. Unfortunately, while the food does not cost them the project still has to pay for vans and rent. This is why it has been demoralising for some of their 180 volunteers to serve 50 to 80 people each day and only find £20 in their donations pot. One volunteer told me “Some people take two full bags of shopping everyday and only put coppers in”. The organisers have had to stop letting people help themselves and now serve people to ensure what everyone gets is fair. Organiser Rene said, “We don’t want to create barriers but may have to start charging an entry fee.”
It’s an amazing project and well worth taking part, whether by visiting the market or cafes. Everyone is welcome but remember
the project is about respecting food and consumers – it’s not ‘free’, it’s ‘take what you need, pay what you can.’
The Sharehouse Market is open Tuesday-Saturday, 12- 2pm at 49 Carlisle Street.