LUU LEADERSHIP RACE: The Real Junk Food Project

Ruth Wogan is running for Community Officer, here are her views on why the Real Junk Food Project is something LUU should be getting more involved in.

When I started thinking about the issues I wanted to campaign on in my efforts to be elected as your Community Officer for next year, one of the things that sprang immediately to mind was the Real Junk Food Project. For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, the Real Junk Food Project is an initiative that started a few years ago in Leeds, and that has now grown to include cafes in other UK cities, as well as in places as far afield as Australia. It operates ‘Pay As You Feel’ cafes – where patrons can choose how much to pay for their meal depending on their financial situation – serving meals comprised of ingredients that are supplied, according to its website, by sources such as ‘allotments, food banks, restaurants, cafes, food photographers, events, and functions’. Without initiatives like the Real Junk Food Project, much of this food would simply be wasted.

LUU has strong links with the Real Junk Food Project, as well as with various food banks in Leeds, and provides them with leftovers from places like Essentials in the Union building. This is fantastic stuff that I would love to build upon and expand were I to be elected, but LUU’s support for the project should not begin and end with the provision of food. The success of the ‘Pay As You Feel’ cafes depends entirely on the support of volunteers, and the project’s local cafes are always in real need of people to help serve food, clean up, advertise the project, and much more. It’s such a shame that more students aren’t aware of the opportunities that are out there to get involved, and publicising these is a priority for my campaign.

This is not simply an issue of sustainability, but also one of tackling food poverty and creating strong links within the local community. Last week I visited the Rainbow Junk-tion cafe in Hyde Park, where the Leeds Syrian Community serves up traditional Syrian and ‘fusion’ dishes, and speaking to the people there it was obvious how keen they were to increase student involvement. Many LUU students and societies are passionate about volunteering, but without the necessary information and links it can be hard to know where to start and who to contact. That is something I really want to change.

I can’t overstate the importance of LUU getting involved in grassroots community projects like this: if we can combine LUU’s community ethos with pre-existing schemes, then we will be all the better for it. Whether I’m elected or not, I hope this article will encourage at least a few people to get involved with this brilliant and worthwhile project.

Ruth Wogan, running for Community Officer.

(Image courtesy of Simone, from Leeds’ Married to a Geek Blog)

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