Charlie’s Angels Kitchens, a ‘surplus with purpose’ café tackling food waste and food insecurity, opens its doors on January 5 at 86, Camden Road.
It will be Tunbridge Wells’ first ‘pay-as-you-feel’ ethical eatery that’s turning surplus food into meals for the whole community.
The not-for-profit café was set up by Rusthall resident, Charlie Moore, who during lockdown began combining her love of gardening and food-growing expertise to tackle her pet peeve – food waste.
She said: “For years I’d been waxing lyrical about saving food surplus and how shameful it is that perfectly edible food is thrown away, incinerated, or fed to animals when we have people on our doorstep struggling to put food on the table. Tunbridge Wells has a very real problem with food poverty that I felt I had to respond to.”
The café, which is sited in the former RendezVous restaurant will provide cooked meals to eat in or takeaway (own containers must be brought along), as well as fruit and vegetables, sold on a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ basis.
A priced drinks menu where customers can ‘gift a cuppa’ is how the not-for-profit community interest company (CIC) will subsidise running costs and any free meals. The food on offer is donated by local farms and supermarkets or supplied by FareShare – the UK’s biggest surplus food redistribution charity.
Last year alone, Charlie held 84 kitchen pop-ups, feeding on average 80 people each time, and serving up 6,720 cooked meals in the process. Add in the number of meals from free ingredients and supermarket provisions and Charlie estimates that the number of meals made from food destined for landfill totals 33,000.
The company was awarded a grant from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council that been used to fund food deliveries, a second-hand van and fridge, the creation of a second pop-up kitchen in Southborough and the continuation of Charlie’s Angels’ pop-up kitchen in Rusthall.
The transition to a permanent home on Camden Road is thanks to an army of volunteers – or ‘angels’. The café will continue to rely on voluntary help and any profits made will be put to local community use.
Charlie’s Angels Kitchens is open from 10.30am-4pm, Monday to Wednesday, 10.30am-8pm Thursday and Friday and 10.30am-5pm on Saturday for food supplies, breakfast, brunch, lunch, and drinks at 86 Camden Road.