Making our Community Dinners accessible to everyone, whether young, old, rich or poor, has always been our priority. Food waste is something that concerns all citizens, as long as we all have to eat. Despite the recommendation to introduce a suggested donation of €2.50 by the Community Centre the Meevaart at the very beginnings of our Community Dinners, we always preferred to leave it up to the guests to decide how they value our food, service and cause, accordingly to their own financial situation. We found that either way we would get around €2.50, which at the time was acceptable considering the minimalist nature of the dinners.
Since then we have come a long way with our Community Dinners, from what was once a food waste eatery without music, table service or entertainment. Thanks to our team of currently 14 heroes getting creative and working hard to provide quality food, service and side programming, our weekly dinners have turned into happenings in a cosy and central space in the Dokhuis. The weekly shifts of these heroes are between 3 and 6 hours long and their jobs include cooking, cleaning, serving, educating, creating recipes and event planning. Every week it is a major collective operation to welcome an average of 60 guests in to our location and give them an unforgettable experience at Taste Before You Waste, during which they get to feel, taste and see how delicious society’s waste can really be. Unfortunately the amount of donations hasn’t increased at all, let alone in relation to its improvements.
Whether on our Facebook events, verbally during the dinners or through tags on our donation jars, we have continuously tried to communicate to our guests how much we need their donations for paying the rent of the space, buying any additional ingredients and supporting all of our social projects that don’t generate any income. Did you know that apart from the weekly Community Dinners, we also organise Food Cycle Markets twice a week, provide guilt-free catering for good causes, support charities and give awareness-raising presentations and food-saving workshops to children and adults?
Despite all of our efforts to leave it up to the guests to give an appropriate donation, we find ourselves receiving an average of €2.20 for our lovingly made two- or three-course meals. Considering the demographic of the majority of our guests, it is hard to believe that the value of our satisfying, guilt-free meals correspond to the price of a bottle of beer, that we sell cheaply at the bar. Speaking of which, any income from the sales at the bar go straight to the house, so do not count towards the donations to Taste Before You Waste. Even the volunteers have to pay for their own drinks, which we would love to change, but simply cannot afford if the donations remain so low.
Don’t get us wrong, if you honestly find yourself in a position in which you cannot afford to pay €5, by all means please give less, this is exactly why we have tried so long and hard to keep the pay-as-you-feel policy alive. But in the same vein, if you are used to paying more for an evening out of this quality, please feel free to pay more and by doing so support a cool project! In other words:
Why would you choose to pay less to a non-profit organisation that leaves it up to you how much to pay and uses your money solely to make a positive social and environmental impact than to a restaurant that sells overpriced food solely to the benefit of the owner’s pockets?