Resurrected Bites: feeding Yorkshire and saving food

Resurrected Bites is a cafe in the Yorkshire North & East Methodist District. The cafe offers delicious meals with vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options using food mostly donated by food manufacturers, where people pay what they can afford. The aim is to help the environment and people suffering from food poverty.

05 June 2024

“The food here is gorgeous and I am a fussy eater!” says a regular, waiting for the dessert to arrive. Resurrected Bites runs three times a week – on Wednesdays at St Paul’s United Reformed Church, on Thursdays at Killinghall Methodist Church and on Fridays at Gracious Street Methodist Church.

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Resurrected Bites – or ‘Resbites’ for the regulars – is a warm and welcoming café, supported by several smiling, energized and committed volunteers as well as shops, cafés, supermarkets and Fareshare, a charity who share surplus food from businesses.

Michelle Hayes, who founded Resbites in 2018, has extensive experience of working with food poverty, loneliness and isolation in the area. Back in 2014, she worked at St. Mark's Church in Harrogate, where she came across The Real Junk Food Project started in 2013 by Adam Smith in Leeds. The idea was to use food that was going to landfill and redistribute it.

A few months later, she set up Resbites in St. Mark's and it immediately a success became. “This project checks so many boxes, people love the environmental aspect of it as food waste is a massive issue. But it also means that if people are coming to us because they are lonely or they are living in food poverty, they feel like they're supporting an environmental cause rather than being stigmatized,” explains Michelle.

When the time came to expand, Michelle asked the church council to release the café and Resurrected Bites became a community interest company.  THey went on to open two new cafes in Gracious Street Methodist Church and Harrogate West Park United Reformed Church.

During COVID, the cafes were closed but Resbites kept collecting food and it was delivered to 15,808 people across the Harrogate district. “Post COVID loneliness and isolation was worse than ever. The cafes were reopened along with two community groceries in Harrogate and Knaresborough, to ensure that people get a good amount of shopping for a very small cost,” adds Michelle.

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Resbites in Killinghall is the most recent cafe, opening in May 2023 after the chapel was refurbished with a professional kitchen, improved insulation and wheelchair accessibility. “It’s really bringing the community together. Many people have thanked me for doing this. They really needed it. The team is amazing, they were on board with the vision of what we're trying to do. They are really friendly and approachable,” says Michelle.

The operation behind the scenes is enormous: they collect food six days a week from about 30 different shops and food suppliers (and occasionally local people, like the gentleman from Killinghall who came to the café and gave them potatoes). The food is then quality-controlled, stored and redistributed from their warehouse. All of that is done by six members of staff and about 160 volunteers in the area. They are also looking at building their supply network with more food manufacturers – the demand is high and does not decrease – to help more people and be able to open more cafes.

Photos provided by the café. Photographer Monika Kus