A church in Great Britain has piloted a community cafe that combines growing fresh produce, preparing great food and learning how to eat well on a budget.
Nosh is a pop-up cafe that has been opening between noon and 2 p.m. each Wednesday throughout May at MemorialCommunityChurch in Plaistow in East London.
It has been serving food grown in the Nosh garden and is part of a wider community food project.
The idea is that people who volunteer in the garden or cafe get to eat for free, but the food is so good that people who live or work in the area come along too, providing income to buy the ingredients for the next week.
“Nosh is a community food project that aims to get people involved in growing, preparing and eating good, inexpensive, healthy food and learning together how we can eat well on a budget,” Philippa King, church development manager, said.
It came about after the church looked into setting up a food bank. However, with a good one already operating nearby, and knowing many people with long-term food needs (food banks normally provide food for a short period to cover an emergency, but try to avoid a longer dependency), it started to think of something slightly different.
A cafe had been suggested for discussion several times as the church development project.
“We began to look at how we could address the issue of long-term food poverty, and thought of this,” King said. “If we could grow something together, volunteer together and make it good enough to attract others, it was worth a look.”
There is heritage, too: the church used to serve weekly lunches when the area began to receive lots of refugees. This was called Nosh, and was set up by Elsie Lewis, who died in 2011. Gifts in her memory have been used to pay for a trained chef.
As well as volunteers learning food preparation skills as they work alongside the chef, weekly recipes are provided.
On a recent Wednesday, a free cooking workshop was offered in the kitchen. A weekly gardening club is also planned.
Nosh at the moment is a six-week pilot project. If it is successful, it could become a regular feature of the building once the next phase of repairs and restoration is complete.
“We’ll have to evaluate costs to see if we can do it long-term once our building project has completed, but we’ve been encouraged so far,” King said. “Last week, we had 55 people and sold every last scrap of food in the kitchen.”