'Pay what you can afford' Auckland restaurant fundraising to stay open permanently

Going out for a meal can be extremely expensive, especially when you're struggling to pay for just the basics.

But an Auckland pop-up charity restaurant which uses donated food lets diners pay what they can afford. 

The model has been so successful the founder wants to open a permanent restaurant.

"I'm retired and it can be a very lonely existence being by yourself because you become less important, but when you come here you get to have a yap over food," customer Merve Hewitt says.

Everybody Eats is a pop-up restaurant on Karangahape Rd where, as the name suggests, anyone can eat. This means you pay what you can afford, even if it's nothing.

"It makes people feel like they're cared about here," Mr Hewitt says. 

A delicious meal aims to bring those in need and professionals together.

Founder Nick Loosley wants Everybody Eats to be a permanent fixture - and he's raising $120,000 to do just that. 

"The pay as you feel model, once we have permanent spaces, can actually fund itself so the reason we're raising money is to get a lease."  

That's possible with just one in four customers paying for their meal. How? Well, all of the food is rescued from supermarkets.

"Is this off food? No, anything that's not fit for human consumption we'll leave behind," Mr Loosley says. 

With humans wasting about a third of the food we produce, using expired and marked food helps combat the country's huge food waste problem.

For instance, at one Auckland supermarket they throw away about four boxes of fruit and vegetables a week. 

This rescued food is delivered to Gemmayze St, a restaurant that gives the charity group free use of its kitchen once a week.

And it's here that a mystery box challenge begins for the volunteer chefs who craft a menu. 

With more than 200 meals served at Everybody Eats each Monday, it's now hoped a more permanent set up will mean there'll be many more full bellies.