ROTARY ROUND-UP: Christmas coming to Empty Plate Café

Town crier Bob Smytherman and councillor Sean McDonald visit the Empty Plate Cafe and meet the volunteers
Town crier Bob Smytherman and councillor Sean McDonald visit the Empty Plate Cafe and meet the volunteers

This week, David Chapman, from the Rotary Club of West Worthing, gives an update on the latest and future goings-on.

Members of West Worthing Rotary Club had an opportunity to learn all about the novel new eatery, the Empty Plate Café in Durrington, at a recent meeting when co-founder Mark Brocklehurst spoke to the club about the project.

The brainchild of Mark Brocklehurst and Tori Hunter, the Empty Plate café opened nearly two years ago in Durrington with a revolutionary ‘Pay what you like’ concept offering meals to everyone regardless of their income. It is also based on the principle of avoiding wasting food.

The Empty Plate Café uses supermarket food that would otherwise be thrown away because it has reached its sell by date, but is still fresh and usable.

The café in Durrington, located at The Love It Hub, Maybridge Square, Durrington, BN12 6HB, is open to the public on a Tuesday from 11am to 6pm providing around a hundred nutritious meals to those in need who might otherwise not meet the criteria for help from the food bank.

Meals are available to everyone regardless of their income,and table service is provided.

More recently the café is open on a Wednesday from 8.30am to 3pm (last orders 2.30pm) providing around 50 meals.

The Café attempts to meet the dietary needs of everyone, catering for vegans, vegetarians and gluten free diners.

On the menu there are two or three starters, five to ten mains and five puddings, depending on what foods have been donated.

A text from the supermarkets via FareShare, which links charities and community groups, gives information as to what is available so that meals can be planned.

The pressure on supermarkets to dispose of usable food responsibly has lead to the creation of a charity called FareShare.

It is the biggest food redistribution charity in the UK, focused on fighting hunger and tackling food waste.

Nearly all the supermarkets in the Worthing area are involved including Morrison’s, M&S, Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose and the Co-op, with Tesco being the largest donor.

Not only does this unused food feed the needy in the community but it reduces the amount of landfill.

About 300kg of food a week is used and since the café started they have saved around nine tons of food going to landfill.

The food is collected and the meals prepared on Monday in readiness for service on Tuesday.

80 per cent of the food is donated, leaving just 20 per cent which has to be paid for.

The financial donations from customers cover these costs and are used to pay rent and other running expenses.

Donating is discreet so as not to embarrass those who can’t afford to pay.

However, quite often people who aren’t in a position to pay, do so!

There are also people who will take advantage of the free meals as well as taking items of food left out, that the café is unable to use.

Those who can’t afford to pay can volunteer to wash up or offer to help in some other way, but this is entirely down to each individual or family.

Food is also prepared and donated to the night shelter or to help supply youth groups and some leftovers are donated to projects in Bognor Regis.

The future plans for the Empty Plate Café is to find larger more purpose built facilities closer to Worthing town so that the homeless community living in the town centre can be catered for.

Work is also underway for the café to give opportunities to disabled adults as a safe place to work while learning new skills.

You are invited to visit the café and join in festive events.

On Tuesday, December 19, there is the Homewise Community Christmas party from 1pm to 6pm with Christmas carols from the Pines Choir, a prize raffle, music, games and a traditional Christmas menu.

Pay as you like – phone 07826 268678 or call at the café to book spaces.

Durrington councillors provide all the meat for a traditional Christmas dinner on Wednesday December 20, from midday to 3pm.

Again, pay as you like – ring 07826 268678 to book spaces.

On Boxing Day there is a traditional Christmas dinner from 12.30pm to 2.30pm, provided for those on their own, the homeless or those with financial problems.

Booking only as places are limited – again call 07826 268678 and pay as you like.

Could we also ask readers to be generous when they see our Christmas collectors outside Asda superstore in Littlehampton Road from Wednesday to Friday, December 20 to 22, from 10am to 4pm.

You are also invited to come along and be charmed by the Elm Grove School children’s choir singing festive songs around the Rotary Christmas tree in Goring Shopping Parade on Wednesday, December 20, at 10am.

You can also join in the carols around the tree on Saturday, December 16, led by the Excelsis Choir from St Andrews Church, Tarring.

We in West Worthing Rotary Club send our warmest wishes for a very pleasant and happy Christmas to all.

Details of Worthing’s three Rotary clubs are:

• Worthing Rotary Club meets Monday, 12.55pm, at the Chatsworth Hotel, in The Steyne, Worthing, 01903 209564.

• West Worthing Rotary Club meets Tuesday evening at Tudor Close, Ferring, 01903 501961.

• Worthing Steyne Rotary Club meets Monday evening at The Ardington Hotel, in Steyne Gardens, Worthing, 07788 638757.