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Santiago Bar

The Real Junk Food Project has found a permanent home in the heart of Leeds, as they open the City Junk-tion in Santiago Bar.

By now, you’ve surely heard of The Real Junk Food Project. They’re the people putting waste food to good use, by cooking up delicious dishes and offering them on a pay as you feel basis. In 2013, Santiago.

Armley was the first of its kind, a completely new idea that killed two birds with one stone – helping to reduce unnecessary waste and feed people who were struggling to feed themselves with the funds available to them.

Let’s just put this in context for a moment. In 2014, Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty saw a 54% increase in meals delivered to people in food poverty in the UK – and The Trussell Trust, the UK’s main national food bank, saw a 163% increase in people needing emergency meals. So what City Junk-tion is doing couldn’t be more important, especially because it gives people the chance to pay for their food in whatever way they can. Whether it’s with what little money they can afford or by offering to help out in the kitchen.

It’s a really interesting concept, and one that’s certainly caught on. “In our first year, we fed 10,000 people with 23 tons of food that was destined for waste.” Adam Smith, Co-founder of The Real Junk Food Project and Co-director of both Armley Junk-tion and City Junk-tion, explained. “We have been the flagship and inspiration for over 100 cafes to open under TRJFP banner worldwide.”

The next of which, will of course, be in Leeds city centre, as they prepare to put Santiago’s previously unused kitchen to good use. City Junk-tion has been a long time coming. They knew they wanted a city centre location – it is, after all, full of restaurants and shops that can supply a constant stream of waste food – but city centre rental prices were beyond their reach.

And that’s where Santiago’s comes in. “We approached Santiago, and we instantly connected.” Adam explained. “Dave – the owner – currently has a large unused kitchen, and we have a sustainable concept that could not only occupy that kitchen, but also help to make the Santiago Bar even more productive from an ethical point of view.” And so a new partnership was formed.

The Real Junk Food Project

City Junk-tion will be just as ambitious. At first, they’ll be tapping into the ton of waste currently donated to the Armley café every week, but the aim is to build up their own network of suppliers in the city centre, saving even more waste food and making it accessible to everyone.

“Every single person in Leeds city centre will have access to food and be able to Pay As You Feel,” Adam told us, “From the homeless to the rich and wealthy, everyone will be treated as equal and everyone can contribute whatever they feel the food and service is worth.”

Of course, it’s not easy. They won’t have a regular menu – they can’t, because they never know what’s coming in from one day to the next. Their chefs have to get creative with what they have, looking at the ingredients to hand and turning them into something tasty. That does have its perks for us punters though, because there’s an ever-changing array of things to eat – you’ll never have to have the same thing twice.

So go on, get yourself down there and put your money to good use, because those of us who can afford to pay will be helping those who can’t – and getting a great feed along the way.

City Junk-tion, Santiago, 1-3 Grand Arcade, Leeds, LS1 6PG.