A BORDERS café is doing its bit to help end the stigma around food poverty and to protect the planet by cutting back on food waste.

Although Café ReCharge CIC (community interest company) was operating as a takeaway service during lockdown, the "pay what you can" venue has now opened its doors for sit-in customers, as well as those looking to pick up food cupboard staples.

Using produce collected from local supermarkets and local food banks, Café ReCharge is repurposing food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

"We knew how much food was being wasted in supermarkets," said co-founder Amy Wight, who opened the CIC with Amanda Robinson, "and we just wanted to make use of that.

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"It seemed insane that there were people going hungry yet there was always food being thrown out.

"We've both got cooking skills and food service skills, so, we thought we could put them to good use."

The café had formerly operated from the Focus Centre in Galashiels, but in November last year announced they would be moving to their new site on Island Street, Galashiels.

Since they first welcomed customers on June 30, Amy told said the café has welcomed a mix of people.

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She said: "We've had quite a lot of customers coming in.

"We've had a good mix of those that can afford to pay, those that can pay a little bit more, and we're serving a lot of people that we know are really struggling with food poverty at the moment so we're able to give them some food for free because the other people have paid a bit extra.

"We're hoping this becomes a real community, social hub and that people always know they can come and get something to eat here.

"We just want to bring the community together a bit."

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Customers at Café ReCharge aren't faced with a menu with a variety of prices, the café operates under a 'pay what you can' ethos, and all payments are 100 per cent anonymous.

Removing the stigma around poverty, especially food poverty, is something which is very close to Amy.

She said: "I've been in the position of not being able to afford food.

"We want to remove the stigma [around food poverty], we want to break down social barriers and we want to strengthen communities and I think if people feel more equal in their community then they're happier and the community in itself will be strengthened.

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"Also having all different groups eating together I think can only be beneficial."

Customers are each given a small fabric envelope for cash payments, where, no matter their financial situation, they have opportunity to pay what they can or what they feel is fair for what they've received. The same can be said for customers wanting to pay by card as they enter their total into the café's card reader themselves.

"We don't really know how much anybody's paying," explained Amy. "But we've worked out a rough average is everybody that's coming in is paying around £6.

"There's a place in Berwick, Northern Soul Kitchen, that operate in the same way [as us] so I went down and spoke to Millie (the co-founder) there to see how her's operates and we decided just to go for it."

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As well as serving handmade meals such as quiche, soup, curry, and sandwiches, Café ReCharge has a number of shelves stocked with food which would otherwise have been thrown away – some of which can be paid for using one of the café's envelopes, or some (such as bread) can be collected free of charge.

According to FareShare, a charity which supports foodbanks and is fighting against food waste, in the UK 3.6 million tonnes of food is being wasted by the food industry (farms, retailers, etc).

"A ridiculous amount of food ends up in landfill," Amy said, "which, rotting food produces methane which is a bigger contributor to the atmosphere than plastic even.

"It's something we really wanted to do something about."

Café ReCharge is open Wednesday to Friday from 10am to 3pm.

For updates, including the surplus shelf stock and menus, visit the Café ReCharge Facebook page.