This UK Restaurant Is Turning Things Around With Its Pay-As-They-Can Approach, While Even Tackling Food Waste

The Long Table

In England, a restaurant has pioneered a groundbreaking approach to tackling food waste and food insecurity, employing 22 full and part-time staff while serving meals diverted from landfills to customers on a “pay-as-you-can” basis.

The success of The Long Table restaurant addresses two pressing challenges facing the UK: the rising cost of food due to inflation, which has increased the average cost by a quarter, and the alarming rates of malnutrition affecting as many as 10 million Brits, Scots, and Northern Irish.

The innovative business model of The Long Table is rooted in conscience and ethics, reflecting their commitment to addressing food waste and hunger.

According to The Guardian, an astonishing 6.4 million tons of food are wasted in the UK each year, contributing significantly to carbon emissions through the decomposition of food and the transformation required to move it around.

However, what sets this Gloucestershire restaurant apart is its focus on the positive impact it can make rather than dwelling on the negative.

The Long Table’s general manager, Will North, says, “We hold a space where we are all collectively trying to answer a question: what if everyone in our community had access to great food and people to eat it with?”

The restaurant serves lunch five days a week from noon, with the store open every morning for coffee and cake. Dinner is available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Despite the meals being based on rescued food from suppliers, the menu remains diverse and fresh.

“We’re not pro-organic, anti-organic, pro-GM [or] anti-GM, we’re just pro-food,” adds North. “But it just so happens that our local producers really prioritize the planet over anything else.”

Operating as a non-for-profit community interest company, The Long Table generates enough turnover to cover all costs, but little profit remains. However, the restaurant doesn’t rely on government grants; instead, its revenue comes from diners, with additional support from drink and coffee sales.

The success of The Long Table has garnered attention from other communities, with plans to replicate the model in areas like Cirencenster and Falmouth, as shared by The Guardian.

The Long Table’s approach highlights the potential for businesses to address social and environmental issues while maintaining financial sustainability. By redirecting surplus food to those in need, the restaurant not only reduces food waste but also provides nutritious meals to individuals who may otherwise struggle to afford them.

Moreover, the restaurant’s inclusive “pay-as-you-can” model fosters a sense of community and dignity, ensuring that everyone, regardless of financial means, can enjoy a delicious meal. This approach not only helps combat food insecurity but also promotes social cohesion and solidarity within the local community.



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