Leeds waste cafe Rainbow Junktion opens its doors as a food bank during Coronavirus

A Leeds cafe that re-uses waste food from supermarkets has remained open to the public even in lockdown – as a food bank.

Rainbow Junktion is a café located in a church in Burley. It started out as a vegetarian/vegan cafe but is now running as a food bank for those in need supplying food, toiletries, and clothing.

Community manager Emily Carrigan said they try and help as many people in need as possible.

“It’s mainly people in serious poverty at the moment. It’s a lot more homeless people, it’s a lot more poor people, there’s really quite a lot of desperation, and it’s quite sad,” she told Yorkshire Voice.

According to government statistics, 4,266 people are currently estimated to be sleeping rough and it takes places such as this to help those the government cannot.

Yorkshire Voice Text Box: Figure 1 number of people sleeping rough since 2010

The goal of Rainbow Junction is to fight poverty and fight food waste. It works alongside supermarkets and an organisation called Food Revival that runs in the heart of Leeds. Rainbow Junction take in their food waste for their bank and turn it into food packages that they distribute.

They serve the public as part of the food bank where people can tell the volunteers what it is that they need.

Emily said: “It’s nicer to choose the things that you want rather than be told what you can have and that’s what we want, we really try to bring as much dignity and allowing people to make their own decisions.”

They also deliver up to 70 food parcels a week to those who cannot leave their homes.

Yorkshire Voice

Christine Thomas started as a customer at Rainbow Junction café and has now been volunteering for nearly two years.

She spoke strongly about the importance of food banks: “There is a lot of poverty and it’s horrible these are just essential as there is not enough food or money.”

Edie Young began volunteering at the beginning of the second UK lockdown.

“It is a vital thing that seems to help people,” she said.

“It doesn’t seem like a supplementary thing it really keeps people going.”

The importance of food banks such as these has risen since the start of 2020 and we can all play a part by donating food or our time to places such as Rainbow Junktion, who are working hard to help their community.

What do you think?