Snacks and Food at Restart / Repair Cafe Events

Hi all, quick question. For those running repair events already what type of food or snacks do you bring? Do you ask for donations? Or do you sell snacks? I am not big into catering and want to guage how much food to bring. Our repair cafe is right on the High Street and there will be lots of other catering options externally. Thanks.


For volunteers?
Hi, our repair event is in Evanston, IL. I always bring healthy snacks for volunteers and try to cater to their taste. In our case, we have single serving cookies pouches, granola bars, baked chips, and the such. I also ask them if they want coffee and brew one at our Library’s kitchen it for them.
I think it’s important not to generate too much waste, while making the volunteers feel cared for by having things they like, and offering them regularly so their energy stays strong:)
We don’t make snacks available for participants as they usually stay less than an hour, and there are a couple of vending machines close by.
I hope this helps,


We usually have biscuits/cakes of some kind, as well as coffee, tea and water available. There’s a kitchen area available in our venue so that helps.

Visitors can access the refreshments too - I’m not sure if we specifically ask for donations from visitors for the refreshments - I’ll check time next time we’re running. We do have a general donation box at the main reception though.

Like Bea says, I think it’s important to have drinks/snacks for the volunteers. But I would say fine not to have them for visitors - especially if you are on the high street with places nearby.

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We (Repair café Foyle, Northern Ireland) travel around to different venues so depending on the venue depends on what is available. However, we have some wonderful volunteers who make soup, bread and cakes for post event get together.


We have a kitchen in the venue we use so find it useful to offer refreshments to both visitors and volunteers. Particularly useful if visitors have to wait for a bit for their repair to be seen. We do ask for donations for refreshments but don’t push it. Refreshments usually tea, coffee and cakes/biscuits.


I checked at our event yesterday and we have a little sign asking for an optional donation at the kitchen counter for visitors if they’re having some of the snacks / drinks.

Hi Edwina,
Firstly, I think that basic refreshments for the volunteers is the most important thing,
the rest is secondary, especially if there are catering options close by.

If you do want to provide, say, tea & biscuits for the visitors, that’s nice, but be aware that you’ll have to monitor and top them up as necessary. I also remember having to shoo away a visitor at one event who was, literally, eating all the biscuits.

Repair groups I’ve been involved with tend to stick with, at most, tea & biscuits for visitors.

Selling stuff may be problematic since that makes you into a food retailer, with possible tax and/or legal ramifications and the tedium of having to make change, bookkeep the finances etc., so I would suggest a donations box with a prominently displayed list of suggested donations for each of the items.


We are open once a week and do two things.
During our opening hours from 13 - 19, we have coffee, tea, and cakes on the table. Mostly the cakes are bought at a local supermarket, but sometimes our volunteers or guests bring cake as shown in the picture. Our cake budget is around 100 DKK / 12 GBP / 13 EUR.

When it’s time for dinner our volunteers eat for free. We have around 6 - 15 volunteers helping throughout the day, but few of them are there for dinner time or feel like they are allowed to eat if they have only been there for 1 hour. We always tell them that it’s not about how long time you have been there on a specific day, but the fact that you take your time to volunteer. And we appreciate that.

For dinner, we normally buy things like sandwiches, pizza, Thai food, or the like from a local restaurant in our area. We have a budget per person of 100 DKK / 12 GBP / 13 EUR. Sometimes 2 people dine together, other times we are 6 people.

We have a deal with one café in our area, which once a month provides us with free dinner. If we were better at making these kinds of deals, we might be able to save a lot of money. But it’s important for us to serve dinner since many of our volunteers have been there for many hours and having the food creates community and a room for talking.


Hi, Most Repair Cafes in Worcestershire provide for sale home-made cakes. Some provide vegan or gluten-free options; we don’t yet in Bromsgrove.

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As a volunteer, drinks and food are very welcome. If you prepare or purchase any food, please ensure there is some vegetarian and/or vegan option for those that need it (also vegetarian food tend to be Halal and Kosher).

If drinks are offered to visitors, it would be worth having a sign next to the drinks to remind visitors not to put drinks on repair tables. Liquid accidents during electronics and electrical repairs are best avoided so prevention is required.

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I personally think food is an important aspect of the Repair Cafe movement, in particular:

  • It helps define the culture of the event, in particular it helps to differentiate Repair Cafe as a community activity rather than a commercial fixing operation.
  • It is a good way to thank volunteers for their time

At Repair Cafe Gosport, UK we do the following:

  • Volunteers:
    ** Pre-event breakfast roll (Bacon or vegetarian equivalent), this helps to encourage people to turn up 30 minutes early to help set up. I plan on 80% of volunteers having this.
    ** Post-event soup and roll lunch, this is when we get the data filled into Fixometer and social media stories collected. This is the opportunity for volunteers to discuss what they fixed and share experiences. We plan on 2/3 of the volunteers staying for lunch.
    ** Cake / Hot drinks during the event.
  • Guests: Cake / Coffee, this is useful where people are waiting, they get to share with other guests about repair/reuse culture.

The cakes and soup are normally made by our volunteers, we have also had some success getting donated food from our local supermarket. All the major supermarkets in the UK have community engagement teams with a budget to support local groups. Both ASDA and Co-op have supported our events. We don’t charge for food for two reasons:

  1. we never want anyone to be disadvantaged by not being able to afford to take part.
  2. As others have said, once you start “selling” food you may have other legal responsibilities depending on where you are in the world.

I don’t yet run a Restarter’s meetup, but at some other events I run, I give people a little envelope with some money in it.

There are lots of benefits to doing this, including that it puts money directly into the local economy.

That typed, I always have water available for attendees.