Les always said, "You never know who is on a boat." We have met people on boats who had more money than Bill Gates, and we have met folks who go from hand to mouth but would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it. This is one of the amazing things about the cut which I love; the variety of people who choose to make their home for all or part of the year aboard a boat, cruising through life at 2 MPH. We are an intentional community and for the most part we look after one another.
Today I had the privilege of meeting someone who does just that--looks after others--in a very concrete and mindful manner. Her name is Bernadette and her boat is NB The Narrow Junk Food Boat. She moored up behind me on the Bollington Aqueduct this morning and promptly put out her signs and boxes of food. That's right--boxes of food for anyone who wants or needs it, absolutely free.
Bernadette is part of a world wide program known as The Real Junk Food Project which is a global, organic network of Pay As You Feel concepts. They divert surplus edible food destined for waste and make it accessible for human consumption. Why is this a relevant issue in 2017? Well here are some facts and figures for you:
Roughly one third of the food produced in this world for human consumption every year (approximately 1.3 billion tons) is lost or wasted. Sources: Global Food Losses and Food Waste--FAO, 2011. the environmental Crisis: The Environments Role in Averting Future Food Crises--UNEP, 2009
Approximately 795 billion people on our planet do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That is about one in every nine people on earth!-Sources: State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2015 accessed online, 10/29/2017.
Bernadette came to narrow boat living through hiring a Black Prince boat years ago and having such a great time, she began planning and implementing hire boat holidays for herself and her friends. When her job as a school caterer began to be too complicated with bureaucracy and red tape, more managerial than cooking, Bernadette threw in the towel. She took an early retirement and bought a boat. She has lived aboard for five years, traveling the cut and while Bernadette loved the laid back lifestyle, her brain craved stimulation. On the look out for something she could do--a project that fell in line with her personal beliefs and which she could back with her time and efforts--Bernadette found the The Real Junk Food Project Cafe in the Yorkshire town of Hebdon Bridge where she volunteered regularly. Earlier this year she filled out the application forms, paid the one hundred and sixty pound fee which included her boat trader's license and took the legal steps to become a viable part of the TRJFP. She collects out of date food from Morrisons and other supermarkets which is set to be binned and she either sets it out on the towpath or on her tug style boat deck in boxes, or she cooks up a delicious meal and offers some to anyone who is hungry for whatever donation they feel moved to make--or none at all if they are down on their luck. With years of experience feeding others on an industrial scale as a school caterer, Bernadette has good judgment about what food is acceptable to offer and what is truly spoiled and inedible. Now Bernadette owns a floating Real Junk Food Project cafe feeding bellies not bins on the cut somewhere near you!
How did TRJFP get started?
Adam Smith is a founder and co-director of the visionary, multi-award-winning, global initiative: The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP). Set up in December 2013, to revolutionize the disposal of avoidable food waste into landfill, the pioneering movement’s manifesto is to: feed bellies, not bins. A professional chef for over ten years, Adam has held a wealth of head chef positions, internationally. Whilst in Australia, Adam witnessed the scale of food waste, agriculturally and within the catering industry. Upon his return to the UK, he was inspired to set up TRJFP. (http://therealjunkfoodproject.org/about/, accessed online on 10/29/2017.) To learn more about it please view this video:
As we witches say in one of our many blessings, "May you never hunger; may you never thirst." Blessed Be