Junk food cafe is cooking up a storm with food saved from bins

Shirley Southworth and Ann Fairhurst, founders of Fur Clemt, celebrate the first anniversary

Shirley Southworth and Ann Fairhurst, founders of Fur Clemt, celebrate the first anniversary

Junk food cafe Fur Clemt was set up to feed bellies not bins - and that’s exactly what it’s doing.

One year since the doors to the cafe opened at Wigan Warriors’ Central Park, on Montrose Avenue, people are flocking there to tuck in to the healthy meals.

The project was launched to help reduce the amount of waste and uses food which was destined for the bin - despite being edible.

Ann Fairhurst, who was involved with founding the cafe, said the first year had been “manic”, with more and more people using the cafe and volunteers giving up hours of their time.

She said: “We are part of the community now and people know us by our first names.

“We get a lot of people talking to us about their personal lives and it’s become like a big family.

“It’s food that’s being thrown away. We stop food going into landfill, anaerobic digestion or going to pig feed if it’s edible.”

Ann Fairhurst

“We do all know we have a job to do to stop this food going in the bin and a bigger role to educate children, getting out there and spreading the word with what we are doing - feeding bellies not bins.”

In its first 11 months, Fur Clemt received 60 tonnes of food which would have gone to waste, and used it to create 22,000 meals.

Around five tonnes of food has been redirected, such as being sold through their “food boutique” shops.

More then 70 people visit the cafe for lunch each day, double the number when it opened 12 months ago.

Fur Clemt - a phrase used in local dialect to mean “very hungry” - started as a four-week project at Wigan Parish Church, but organisers saw the difference it could make.

They secured the venue with Wigan Warriors and funding for three years from Wigan Council.

The food is given to the project by farm shops, distributors and other suppliers.

There are many reasons why it could be deemed to be waste, including fruit or vegetables being the wrong shape or an error with the packaging.

Supermarkets and restaurants usually want there to be five days left to the best before date, so if there are just four days, that food will be considered to be waste.

Ann said: “It’s food that’s being thrown away. We stop food going into landfill, anaerobic digestion or going to pig feed if it’s edible.”

The team arrives at Fur Clemt each day to see what is available and then start making meals for the cafe.

There could be hot meals, such as cottage pies and stir fries, as well as salad, vegetables, soup and toast.

Sometimes “luxury” foods are donated, such as smoked salmon and quails’ eggs.

The cafe is not a soup kitchen or food bank and the food is not given for free.

But it does use a “pay as you feel” model, where people can give what they think the food is worth, whether that is in cash or in kind.

Ann said: “Anybody can come. You don’t have to be on benefits, you don’t have to be homeless. There is no stigma attached to this project. When you are here, you stop that food ending up in the bin.”

As well as meals, Fur Clemt offers cookery demonstrations, family bingo and other activities.