Storage solutions for local success story RE-f-USE

Since we assisted with the renovation of their premises in 2017, the team behind RE-f-USE Cafe in Chester-le-Street have had enormous success in their efforts to collect and redistribute food that would otherwise go to waste. Recent months have seen them doubling their intake of donated food to 13 tonnes per month, all of it redistributed on a pay-as-you-feel basis via the community cafe to help reduce the region’s food waste problems.

Over the last two years the enterprise has diversified from cafe service and themed restaurant nights, adding events into the mix by catering for weddings and birthday parties for people who prefer a more environmentally-friendly form of catering.

They also created and delivered a staggering 30,000 hot, nutritious meals to those shielding across County Durham and Gateshead as an emergency response to the dire situation some faced in the early months of the pandemic, stepping up to the plate to provide a creative and life-saving service to the area in our time of need. We think their success at crowdfunding for this expansion is very well deserved.

Given all this good work, we are delighted to have been asked to help RE-f-USE create a much-needed kitchen expansion and a series of lockable store rooms in the warehouse behind the cafe . These spaces will enable them to process the food coming in and keep supplies to hand for special planned events or services. Michelle, who runs their events catering arm Conscious Kitchen, said “Simple as it sounds the best thing about these storage rooms to me are the locks – it’s been hard to plan events and not have anywhere to reserve specific items as the café and Waste Not box scheme has been so busy it’s hard to keep track of where things are in the warehouse. McCarrick Construction have been great, really friendly which is important as we’ve carried on working in here during the building. Even if they do get through enormous amounts of tea and coffee!”

During the 8-week project, site manager James Brown led a team of joiners, plumbers and air conditioning engineers to install the new kitchen and chilled storage spaces, joinery apprentice Ethan West was able to get some experience of creating panelled rooms and doors and reading plan drawings. The RE-f-USE team will soon be moving into this new space and we’re looking forward to seeing what they do next.