Diners helping to put food on the tables of those most in need

Diners at some of our hospitality venues are already helping to put food on the tables of those most in need in the borough, but now we are extending our helping hand even more.

A donation of £1 from every full English breakfast we sell at the Prairie 1955 Kitchen and Towneley’s 197 Bistro goes to the Burnley Community Grocery, a charity based at the Valley Street Community Centre.

As a not-for-profit organisation ourselves, we are planning to increase our support with a series of quarterly ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ dinners whereby diners will be able to pay what they think their meal is worth, with all the proceeds going to the grocery.

We’ve given this unique idea its name from the fact that 80 per cent of the food used for the three-course menu will be ingredients that otherwise could go to waste. The other 20 per cent will be fresh meat and ingredients donated by our long-time food supplier, Burnley-based Birchall Foodservice.

Mark Dempsey is our Head of Culture and Hospitality, and he says: “There is so much food waste and spoils that can be made into really top-quality food. “A lot of supermarkets are removing use-by and best before dates from their fruit and veg because it is fine for a lot longer than you’d think. So, for example, if you take a head of broccoli, most people just chop the flowery bit off the top and cook that and throw away the stem. But actually, the stem is the tastiest bit. It’s just about trimming it and cooking it.

“This is an extension of our breakfast fundraising for the community grocery. What it is doing is outstanding. Shopping there has dignity, it feels very normal, just like any supermarket.”

Burnley’s community grocery is one of 19 operating throughout the UK. Members are asked to pay a £5 annual joining fee, which allows them to shop there up to three times a week. What is known as a ‘full shop’ costs £4, and typically includes:

  • One bakery item such as a loaf of bread
  • Five portions of fresh fruit and veg
  • Seven different canned or boxed pantry items
  • One non-food item
  • One item from the freezer

Food for the grocery is donated by local supermarkets and monetary donations can come from businesses, churches, organisations and individuals.

So far, breakfast donations from our 1955 Kitchen at the Prairie and Towneley’s 197 Bistro have raised £500 – the equivalent of 125 full shops.

Mark’s hoping to attract 50-60 diners to each ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ dinner, with the first one pencilled in for later this month or early November at The Burnley Mechanics Theatre.

He adds: “We’ll be asking our staff to volunteer their time, so it is a nil cost exercise, in terms of getting the free ingredients and creating something amazing from it and then getting the diners to pay what they think it’s worth.

“The aim is to raise enough for around 400 free shops per event, so we’re hoping people will give around £25 for their meal – 50 to 60 people gets us to that target. Who knows what the menu will be. It’ll be unknown until the last minute when we get hold of the fruit and vegetables.”

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