£3 million for Community Fridge Network reducing food waste

Hubbub has announced this week (4 September) that it has received £3 million in funding from Co-op for its Community Fridge Network which aims to reduce food waste by allowing communities to share surplus food. 

Food waste Hubbub Elmbridge Eco Hub
The Elmbridge Eco Hub has shared 5.6 tonnes of food with 2,600 residents in the past seven months
In 2022, the Community Fridge Network connected over 450 ‘community fridges’ across the UK and has continued to grow this year. The partnership is set to continue over the next three years.

Community fridges are social spaces where anyone can share surplus food, this includes surplus food from supermarkets, local food businesses, producers, households and gardens. The environmental charity says that the scheme aims to reduce food waste and empower communities to come together and help one another.

For example, the Elmbridge Eco Hub has shared 5.6 tonnes of food with 2,600 residents in the past seven months and transformed a disused bowling green into an award-winning community garden with the help of over 300 local volunteers.

The new investment will be put towards growing the impact of the existing network by supporting fridges to become integral to their local community. Hubbub will also be supporting groups to share knowledge and inspiration across the network, as well as funding 75 fridges in new locations across the UK.

The announcement comes as Hubbub publishes its annual impact report for the Community Fridge Network, which shows both growth and demand for the project, with community fridges now open in every region.

The report estimates that in 2022, more than 7,000 tonnes of surplus food were collectively shared across the network – the equivalent of nearly 17 million meals. This is almost six times the amount shared in 2019 when the network shared three million meals in a year.

More than stopping food waste

Ellen Rutherford, Head of Food at Hubbub said: “The Community Fridge Network has expanded quickly over the past couple of years, thanks to Co-op's continued support. Last year, the network grew from 270 fridges to 450, with 1.2 million visits across the country.

“We are now seeing an average of 1.5 tonnes of food being shared per fridge each month and this new investment will help to sustain the network as it continues to evolve.

“We believe community fridges are about more than sharing food. While originally set up to tackle food waste, the network has proven how important it is for communities to have a place to connect and food is a very powerful way for people to do this. We’re looking forward to seeing how much more the network can achieve through the new funding over the coming years.”

Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Member Participation at Co-op, added: “As a member-owned co-operative, we recognise our responsibility to make a genuine difference in our local communities and believe that everybody should have access to good food.

“We are extremely pleased that we can continue to work with our partner Hubbub to grow the community fridge network, helping people across the UK to come together, have access to food, and reduce food waste. 

“This partnership would not have been possible without Co-op members, and their drive to ensure we support their local communities to make sure that everyone has fair access to food.”  

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