Founder of The Real Junk Food Project Adam Smith brings his fight against food poverty to INSP 2017

Delegates at this year’s Global Street Paper Summit gathered together for dinner at the end of a packed and fruitful day of activities and discussions. The venue for their meal was an unusual one – Manchester’s historic Victoria Baths, a derelict swimming pool dating back to the early 1900s.

Victoria Baths. Credit: Wendy Keogh

The extremely picturesque building was filled with hungry delegates, who were fed by The Real Junk Food Project – a not-for-profit organisation that tackles food poverty by putting food and produce, that would otherwise go to waste, to good use.

Delegates enter the Victoria Baths. Credit: Wendy Keogh

The community interest company looks to eradicate social isolation by cooking up delicious meals for anyone using food that would otherwise be considered passed its use by date and thrown away. Its cafes, which span the UK and countries across the world, operate on a “pay what you feel” basis, with their manifesto slogan stating: “we feed bellies, not bins”.

On the menu for the night were five vegetarian dishes, including charred marrow and curried cauliflower, fresh salads and a vegetarian chilli.

A Real Junk Food Project chef prepares some of the night's dishes. Credit: Wendy Keogh

After delegates were full, the project’s passionate founder, Adam Smith, spoke to the crowd about his upbringing, inspiration and the work he and his concept are doing to eliminate food waste.

Adam Smith addresses INSP 2017 delegates. Credit: Wendy Keogh

Recounting his difficult and troubled youth, his time working as a head chef in high end restaurants in Australia, and how he came up with the idea for The Real Junk Food Project while working on a farm and seeing perfectly usable food fed to livestock, Smith gripped delegates, who were keen to ask questions and hear stories from his four years as the founder of the project.

He spoke of the “classist approach to poverty” and how education is the key to instigating lasting change.

He said: “It’s a basic human right to have access to food. We should allow and teach people to not only value food as a resource, but also value themselves.

“I’m seen as radical, but that’s nonsense. I’m just feeding people, and giving those people the opportunity to give back.

“There’s a huge stigma around food waste and it’s attached to people who are poor, needy, homeless and vulnerable.

“To try and breakdown those stigmas, we’re trying to stop pigeonholing people into these groups. People are human beings.”

Delegates enjoy dinner at their tables. Credit: Wendy Keogh

He told tales of unbelievable food wastage by supermarkets and even an altercation with the BBC after they needlessly wasted 10,000 cupcakes in a world record attempt for Children in Need.

Before the dinner, Smith sat down with INSP, underneath the skylights of the Victoria Baths, to discuss in depth his dream to “really feed the world”.

Look out for the full feature interview on the News Service and INSP website in the coming days.