Everybody Eats, a pay-as-you-feel, rescue food dining experience in New Zealand, has become a permanent fixture in Auckland following the success of its weekly pop-up.
Volunteers take food that would otherwise go to waste, and turn it into a three course meal for diners at Avondale’s Woodworks cafe. Meals are served to customers from all walks of life – including homeless people, elderly and persons suffering mental health and substance abuse – who then pay as they feel, even if it’s nothing.
New Zealand wastes NZ$872 million (€525m) a year on food that was bought and then thrown away. Moreover, one in six citizens in New Zealand go hungry.
It was for these reasons that Nick Loosley decided to set up Everybody Eats, after working at New Zealand’s national Food Rescue charity Kiwi Harvest. Since June 2017. The Auckland native was first exposed to the enormous amount of food wasted while undertaking research for his Master’s Degree in Green Economics. He saw prime cuts of red meat, fresh avocado, even whole wheels of cheese all just simply thrown away.
The Everybody Eats founder visited 12 projects in the UK and Spain, learning the various ways these initiatives are effecting change in the food system. When he returned home, Nick Loosley knew he wanted to do something to help solve the problems of food waste and food poverty in New Zealand.
Everybody Eats has been doing a pop-up each Monday night at Gemmayze St in St Kevins Arcade, a popular restaurant on Auckland’s K’Rd. In September 2018, Everybody Eats expanded to Avondale where it operates Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, feeding between 100 and 150 people each night.
Many of Auckland’s top chefs and restaurants have been involved at Everybody Eats. While a majority of customers don’t pay anything for their meal, Everybody Eats depends on reasonable donations to ensure the nonprofit doesn’t become unsustainable.
Everybody Eats founder Nick Loosley said: “Food really is the most amazing tool we have for bringing people together. We’ve realised that by treating everyone equally, with dignity and respect, that each week we are slowly having an impact on people socially, as they begin to trust those they share their meal with. I’ve seen people who have lived on the streets for decades sitting barefoot opposite lawyers in suits, engaging in meaningful conversations over a bowl of hot soup.”
Image credit: Everybody Eats Facebook page
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. I write about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and I offer content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at Rosamedea.com