The new Kairos Free Store may surprise you. You will find an upmarket café beautifully converted from a shipping container, surrounded by chic recycled timber garden beds full of strawberries, herbs and other edible plants. The shelves inside are loaded with luscious food – artisan bread, sandwiches, salads, muffins and cakes.
They are listed in Stuffs ‘Top 10 best eateries to emerge in Christchurch this year.’ All fairly standard in todays modern Christchurch café scene – but there is one thing missing. A cash register.
Kairos Free Store gives away all its food for nothing.
The food is leftover from central city cafés and eateries which could have simply been tossed in the bin. Here, it has been saved and is redistributed to anyone who needs or wants it. That may be a homeless person, or it may be a family finding it difficult to make ends meet. It could be a student or the elderly. Everyone is welcome, no stigma, no fear and no shame.
FREE STORE MOVEMENT
Beth Hutt has been in the café business for over 10 years. Hearing about the Free Store Movement Aotearoa and after visiting the founding store in Wellington, Beth was so moved by the concept that she decided to set up the South Island’s first Free Store in Christchurch.
RNP homes donated a brand new shipping container and provided all the resources and labour to fit it out, with 3D Factory donating the architectural design. Grace Vineyard Church donated a part of their land for the container and Greening the Rubble took care of the landscaping and edible garden as part of Festa – a public festival of architecture, design and food.
LEFTOVERS COLLECTED BY VOLUNTEERS
Calling on her contacts in the café industry, Beth has so far recruited over 25 cafés into the scheme, whose leftovers are collected (at their convenience) in her custom built pimped-up supermarket trolley which is trundled around the CBD by volunteers every Wednesday and Friday afternoon.
The food arrives back at the Free Store along with a few car pick-ups to be unloaded onto shelves ready for opening at 5.30pm. A second group of volunteers then take over, dressed in stylish custom-made Kairos aprons, to serve the food to the crowds already queuing up outside.
“If you go into a café at 3 o’clock, a sandwich could cost you $10 and look amazing.” Says Beth, “But after they close it has no value which is ridiculous when there are people in need in our community.”
CAFÉ OWNERS LOVE KAIROS
“Thank goodness you’re taking this – its breaks my heart to see it all end up in the bin,” says one owner at pickup time. "This just ticks so many boxes.”
The Kairos Free Store Mission is simple:
'To create a space where anyone is welcome. To see food going into the hands of people who need, and create friendships with those on the margins of society. Kairos is relational, not transactional. It’s a space to come as you are – no questions asked.'
A COMMUNITY SPACE
The relaxed and cheery atmosphere, the smiling faces, chatter and laughter speak of more than just a bag of food. This is an inclusive, community space, where people from all walks of life come together and something very special happens.
As Beth says, “Anyone can rock up whether they’re homeless, or a guy in a suit driving an Audi.”
If you are passionate about zero food waste, sustainability and have a heart for the community, if you own a cafe and hate seeing leftover food end up in landfill, or if you would just like something to eat for free:
Email Beth: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call in on Wednesday and Friday evenings from 5.30 at 311 St Asaph Street, Central Christchurch, next door to Good Habit café.