By Eirian Jane Prosser.
TWO Oxford women are trying to raise £20,000 to keep running a cafe and catering company that fights food poverty and waste in the city.
Marie Lehri and Sandra Ruge, who run Waste2Taste cafe in Cowley as a social enterprise, lost 100 per cent of their income during lockdown.
However they still managed to provide more than 2,500 meals to those in need.
This week, they were finally able to reopen the cafe, but now they are asking for donations so they can continue to help as many people as possible.
The Oxford food and community activists set up Waste2Taste in March 2017.
Their aim was to increase access to good food and encourage healthy eating for all.
Using income from their ‘ethical, sustainable catering operation’, Waste2Taste delivers training and outreach, and delivers home-cooked meals to those most in need.
Within three years Waste2Taste has developed ‘from the seed of an idea into a successful, grass-roots social enterprise’.
It also aims to reduce the ‘high levels of homelessness, child poverty and food inequality’ in Oxford.
The enterprising pair and their volunteers run regular health and wellbeing workshops at Ark-T Centre for homeless and vulnerably-housed adults.
These were ‘so popular’ they had to create a waiting list.
Before the pandemic, the pair were struggling to keep up with the demand of their catering company and so were looking to expand the team.
Then, during the nationwide lockdown, the cafe had to shut to the public.
However, instead of putting staff on furlough, the team decided to provide thousands of free meals to those in need.
Over the past five months, Waste2Taste teamed up with the Ark-T Centre, Flo’s The place in the Park and Oxford Hub to create #OX4FreeFoodCrew.
This group now provides ‘nutritious and delicious’ cooked food to those who are shielding, the elderly, those in food poverty or otherwise vulnerable.
During this time Waste2Taste alone has provided more than 2,500 meals to those in need.
One user of the scheme, Abinah, writing on the Waste2Taste fundraising web page, spoke about her experience.
She said: “I was scared of being alone during the pandemic.
“I have been supported by Waste2Taste as I have PTSD, this has meant I have been less stressed and had something to look forward to on a daily basis.
“Feelings wise I feel respected and that my dignity is raised and very moved that I don’t have this sense of loneliness and negativity.”
Waste2Taste has raised more than £7,000, but the goal is to reach £20,000.
The fundraiser aims to supply 200 free meals a week and cover other costs.
To find out more about the scheme and donate money, go to waste2taste.co.uk