Community fridges is a vital resource for thousands of people every day. During the lockdown, they have been in demand more than ever. Thankfully during these times, there has never been a stronger sense of community. We’ve seen clap for carers, rainbows in windows to support key workers, and a universal appreciation for the fantastic work our NHS do. Communities have also been working together to find food donations and redistribute parcels to those in need.
Small villages across the country have set up community fridges to help share the food that has been in shortage recently – goodies such as flour which is still a struggle to find! We’re all becoming accustomed to pitching in, talking to our neighbours to see if they’re well stocked, sharing our surplus of tinned soup and pleading with someone to share some loo roll. It’s been a bizarre time, but as we start to leave lockdown, now is the time to remember our newly enriched community spirit.
A community fridge is often associated with negative views of ‘struggling to buy food’ and a last resort, however, this doesn’t need to be the case.
It’s time to remove the ‘taboo’ on community fridges.
Companies using community fridges to overcome supply and demand issues
We love hearing heart-warming stories about companies who are working to help others as well as the planet. More importantly, we enjoy sharing and celebrating them with all our readers.
Food Connect in Milton Keynes has been working hard collecting food from homes and redistributing to those who are in need. They’re part of the community fridge network, a wide collection of fridges that expand up and down the country. It’s an easy service to get involved with, and it’s a great tool to use if we happen to get carried away on our weekly shop!
E-cargo bikes and E-vans have been travelling across the town, helping to redistribute unwanted food. There was a 30% increase in edible food waste during the first two weeks of lockdown and it has continued. Lockdown has been the perfect time for Food Connect to broadcast their services.
Donation to community fridges from supermarkets
This month in our blog Buy unloved food and do your bit, we discussed how supermarkets contribute to food waste. Although many have been donating food for years. Those supermarkets who recognise their food waste contribution often donate the edible food that they must legally remove from the shelf at the end of each day. Sometimes this food goes to a food bank, but in less populated areas, it ends up in community fridges.
Numerous supermarkets realise that by donating food to their local community fridge, they can minimise their waste and help those in their local area. Supermarket donations demonstrate how redistribution is a great way to tackle food waste.
People need to use community fridges as a resource and not a last resort
It’s OK to take, as well as give
Donating is a great way to interact with community fridges, but it is also essential to take when necessary. Some community fridges, especially around Christmas time, see significant spikes in donations that are simply too much to handle for the few volunteers involved. If you want to get involved in your local community fridge, you can find the contact details here.
To reduce the amount of food waste created in community fridges, people need to use them and recognise the urgency to get these items onto a plate. Leaving food tins on the shelf for months is bad, whether that’s in your home or a community fridge.
You might be aware of a struggling parent during the lockdown. You may know of an elderly person who cannot obtain an online delivery slot with their supermarket. It could be as simple as you have nothing in for dinner that evening.
Everyone is worthy of using a community fridge. If we stop ourselves from using community fridges for fear of judgement, we could unintentionally add to food waste.
If you’re going to your local community fridge, check the dates on items. Some people will donate items that are short life, which is OK, as long as they get used. If you noticed something is soon to expire, take it and see if you can find a need for it, even if that’s in your own kitchen.
Encourage others to take from community fridges
Bring balance to food waste
This month our blogs have highlighted ways in which we can all do a little bit more to reduce our food waste. It’s not only about composting and recycling food waste – for starters that’s not a luxury we all have!
Community fridges are well established across the country. Be sure to investigate in your area to see if you have one. If you don’t, why not start one? Let’s start utilising community fridges to help end food waste as well as hunger.