A Newcastle cafe is helping to cut down on the amount of food wasted in the community by turning it into affordable, healthy dishes for the public.

The Magic Hat Café collects unused or ‘surplus’ food (food that is otherwise bound for landfill) and uses this to create affordable, healthy meals to lower the amount of food thrown away. This can include fruit and vegetables that are unattractive, bakery products that can only be sold on the day of production, surplus from food growers and end-of-line or unsold produce. The collected food is sorted and then prepared and served at their ‘pop-up cafe’ sites; a process also known as ‘upcycling’.

Newcastle’s Magic Hat Café is Upcycling Food Waste into Healthy Dishes

The Magic Hat Cafe in Newcastle, UK, runs a ‘pay as you feel’ payment scheme

An added initiative is the ‘pay as you feel’ (PAYF) payment scheme, where customers can make a donation for whatever they feel the food is worth, with no set price for the food.

This is designed to allow anyone, regardless of their financial status, to access nutritious, healthy food. It also gives customers the opportunity to think about the true value of food that would otherwise be thrown away.

Aside from upcycling food to feed the community, the Magic Hat Café is also leading research and activism on food waste in Newcastle.

“I’m concerned about the world’s problems, particularly food waste, due to my background as a chef and having studied food and nutrition at university, and I’ve been an environmentalist for as long as I can remember,” said Duncan Fairbrother, Founder and Director of the café. “I wanted to develop an idea to engage people in the issue of food waste and came up with the concept of The Magic Hat Cafe. I also wanted to raise awareness about how much food is wasted in the UK and to challenge people’s perceptions.”

According to food charity FareShare almost half of global food production is wasted, and in the UK 1.9 million tonnes of food is wasted by the food industry each year. In addition, it is estimated that 8.4 million people in the UK are struggling to afford to eat.

The Magic Hat Cafe is based on a model devised by The Real Junk Food Project, which has saved nearly 50,000 tonnes of food from landfill since it was launched in 2013.

Food waste is not an issue many people will readily be familiar with, so The Magic Hat Café is not only providing an inspired approach to tackling food insecurity and waste in the community but is also highlighting the issues at hand too.

Click here to find out more about The Magic Hat Café in Newcastle.

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Rob studies at Cass Business School and enjoys reading, writing and bringing little, hopeful stories to light.

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