Launch of new 'pay as you feel' cafe in Ripon: Everything you need to know

The 'pay as you feel' Wholemeal cafe opens in February. Pictured are Janet Slater and Alison Scott, who are setting up the project in Ripon.
The 'pay as you feel' Wholemeal cafe opens in February. Pictured are Janet Slater and Alison Scott, who are setting up the project in Ripon.

A new 'pay as you feel' cafe is being launched in Ripon to provide a practical solution to food waste and address hidden poverty in the city.

Its founders, Ripon residents Janet Slater and Alison Scott, hope it will become a community hub that also tackles issues such as loneliness and social isolation.

The cafe, called Wholemeal, has been inspired by The Real Junk Food Project - a pioneering network of pay as you feel cafes that has saved more than 1,167,605kg of food, and fed more than 44,700 people to date.

Ripon's cafe is the latest to become part of The Real Junk Food Project network and its life-changing legacy. It will open at Ripon Community House on Allhallowgate on February 21, and then continue to welcome residents every Thursday during the same hours thereafter, 11am to 2pm.

The cafe rescues surplus good food that has been generously donated by local suppliers, and would otherwise be sent to landfill.

Janet and Alison said the support for Wholemeal has already been overwhelming, and they would love to see the Ripon community embracing it even more when it's up and running.

Janet, who is a volunteer for Fountains Abbey, and is about to start volunteering with Jennyruth Workshops, said: "I think it is a good idea for everywhere to have a pay as you feel cafe - we know how much food is going to waste, and we know how much hunger there is in our country.

"The main thing to emphasise is that it is pay as you feel - if somebody has got no money at all, they don't have to put anything in. The cafe is like an umbrella that can take all in, it's simply pay as you feel.

"I hope that anybody who is feeling lonely can pop in for a cup of coffee and have some lunch. It's a way of bringing people together."

It was who Alison stumbled upon the great work that The Real Junk Food Project is doing in Saltaire, and she was so inspired by it that she then teamed up with Janet to bring the concept to Ripon, under the invaluable support and guidance of the project's national founder Adam Smith.

Alison, who is a retired podiatrist, said: "Something which is close to my heart is waste, it is so appalling. I hope people will cotton on to this idea once it gets going, and come to the cafe for good wholesome meals.

"I think poverty is very well-hidden in Ripon, but it's there. There are people who are homeless and sofa surfing, but you don't see that. We will be open during the school holidays, so whole families can come along and use the cafe."

Wholemeal is a not-for-profit cafe that will be operated by volunteers, and any funds raised will be ploughed straight back into supporting The Real Junk Food Project charity.

To find out more about volunteering for Wholemeal, email Alison: alifat1958@gmail.com, or Janet - janetfslater@yahoo.co.uk.

Don't miss the opening of the new pay as you feel Wholemeal cafe, on February 21 at Ripon Community House, 11am to 2pm.