DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdad210 ISSN: 1741-3842

An evaluation of the Birchwood Junk Food Café, Skelmersdale

Greg Williams, Christine Greenhalgh, Steph Mitchell, Omer Ali, Stella Connell, David Scott, Grace Vella, Arpana Verma
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • General Medicine


Food waste is an issue of global concern requiring worldwide action. In the UK, £19 billion worth of food is wasted every year. A variety of initiatives have been developed to redistribute surplus food to those in need. The Birchwood Junk Food Café in Skelmersdale combines the reduction of food waste with community and societal benefits. The University of Manchester and the Birchwood Centre conducted an evaluation of the café including a customer satisfaction survey, a long-form health and wellbeing survey and qualitative interviews. Each day the café produces a three-course menu for the public on a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ basis. During an 18-month period, the café intercepted 32 729 kg of food that would otherwise have gone to waste, served over 1500 people, with 3500 covers, 60 different dishes and 1200 volunteer hours. Customer satisfaction was extremely high with 88% being repeated visitors and 86% rating the café as excellent. Volunteers include youth from the local Birchwood Centre, who gain valuable experiences. Customers benefit from social interactions and additional community cohesion. The café offers an unique opportunity to impact on the wider community and provides support and structure for the volunteers.

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