£23,000 raised for Real Junk Food Project cafe

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A PAY as you feel Leeds cafe which faced possible closure looks set to be saved after a fundraising drive netted more than £23,000 in just six weeks.

Donations flooded in during an online appeal after the team behind the Real Junk Food Project cafe on Chapel Lane, Armley, revealed in November that they were seeing to raise £130,000 to buy the building.

The cafe has fed 10,000 people 20 tonnes of food that would otherwise go to waste on a pay as you feel’ basis since it opened in December 2013.

Around 350 customers a week use the café and pay what they feel by putting money in a box or volunteering to donate their time to help the project in payment.

Leeds-based Geldards Coaches own the café building, which was a former fruit and florist’s shop, and have been supportive of the project.

But Geldards are seeking to sell the building and have given tenants the Real Junk Food Project the first option to buy it.

The project’s co-founder and co-director Adam Smith, 29, said the £23,000 raised has helped persuade private investors to fund the remaining cost of buying the cafe via social loans. Negotiations on the sale of the building are ongoing.

Mr Smith said: “It is fantastic, I think we had 500 funders in total.”

He added: “I always had full confidence we were going to buy this building.”

The cafe on Chapel Lane has been temporarily closed since December 14 but is due to re-open on Monday.

The project’s volunteers have been busy with a temporary venture after setting up a pay as you feel cafe in an old ambulance in the Trinity Leeds shopping centre.

The ambulance cafe opened at Tinity Leeds on December 28 and is due to be at the site until February 8.

Mr Smith said: “We have been exposed to a very different demographic at Trinity. Some people have paid £20 for a jacket potato, cheese and beans. People have been struggling to understand pay as you feel.

“We were encouraging people not to pay too much but trying to make them understand the value of the food.”

More than 200 volunteers collect unwanted food from sources including households, restaurants, allotments, other cafés, Kirkgate Market and even food photographers, to serve up.