When Nick Loosley launched his benevolent Everybody Eats initiative at St Kevins Arcade restaurant Gemmayze St, it was only meant to be a temporary fix, a trial run, so to speak, to see if the model would actually work in New Zealand. He had seen it take off in places like the UK, where he had undertaken action research at Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food and The Real Junk Food Project, but he needed somewhere to test the waters locally before diving into something permanent.
As fate would have it, the weekly, pay-as-you-feel, food rescue dinner amassed an instant patronage amongst those in need and those wanting to give back somehow, and over a year later, they’re still serving up dinners every Monday night in the place where the Lebanese restaurant usually resides. To expand the project and deliver it to even more Aucklanders, however, Loosley and his team recently signed a sublease to operate out of Avondale’s Woodworks cafe.
Extending the operation, which sees food that would otherwise go to waste transformed into a wholesome, restaurant-quality meal, has been an adjustment to say the least. Adding Wednesday nights, Thursday nights and, most recently, Tuesday nights to their weekly pop-up schedule, the need for volunteer support as well as support from regular diner-donors has increased exponentially.
Given the aforementioned model works on some diners donating more generously than others, Loosley has noted a shift since moving out of the CBD. “There’s very much a community-minded feel in Avondale as opposed to the ‘us’ and ‘them’ separation that occurs in Central Auckland. We have more people donating smaller amounts, but we still need support from those who are able to donate more generously,” he says.
With the new permanent premises, Loosley has been able to create some economies of scale, but they still depend on reasonable donations to keep each session a zero-sum affair as opposed to becoming unsustainable.
With the recent launch of Tuesday nights, Loosley is encouraging anyone familiar with Everybody Eats, as well as those who are yet to experience it, to pop along to the new Avondale location and see what it’s all about. Furthermore, you can sign up to become a much-needed volunteer here.
To find out more, click here.