Lottery funding to support 70 Community Fridges across UK over next three years
70 Community Fridges are set to be established across the UK over the next three years after the Community Fridge Network received £160,000 of National Lottery funding, it was announced today (7 December).
The issue of food waste has featured prominently in the news this year as the UK is waking up to the scale of the problem; seven million tonnes of food were wasted last year, with households throwing away a huge £13-billion worth of food , while the hospitality and food service sector wasted £3 billion, according to Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) figures.
In July of this year, Sainsbury’s teamed up with behaviour change charity Hubbub and fridge manufacturer Bosch to launch the Community Fridge Network, a series of communal fridges filled with surplus food from local businesses and households aimed at reducing perishable food waste and getting safe and edible food to families in need.
The fridges are mainly housed in community centres, and have varying opening hours depending on the needs of each community. Access to the fridges is run on an honesty basis; people are able to take whatever they like, but are asked not to take more than they need. Users are also asked to note down what they take in the logbook, so that organisers can see how many people are being helped.
As well as a log book, Community Fridge users can find a noticeboard, food safety guidelines, recipes and a guest book in which to leave comments. The Community Fridge Network provides free advice and support to the organisers at each site.
The Network currently receives funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the North London Waste Authority (NLWA), The Funding Network and Sainsbury’s, which also plays a major role in donating surplus food to the fridges, while the fridges and freezers are donated by Bosch.
Commenting on the value of the Community Fridge Network, Trewin Restorick, CEO and Co-founder of Hubbub, said: “It’s astonishing that so much edible food ends up in the bin. A Community Fridge is such a simple way to make sure healthy, perishable food gets put to good use and it serves a much wider role in bringing communities together. We’d love to see these in place right across the UK and we’re particularly keen to hear from people in the South West who would be interested in joining us.”
Now, thanks to the National Lottery funding, the Network will now be able to establish fridges in 50 communities over the next year, with the ultimate goal of supporting 70 community fridges over the next three years to support the re-distribution of around 350 tonnes of edible food a year.
There are currently 22 Community Fridges open across the UK re-distributing between 200kg and 1,400kg of edible food a month, with a further 21 in the process of being set up. Hubbub has so far received 250 expressions of interest from organisations and individuals wanting to set up a community fridge.
Following the National Lottery’s funding announcement, James Harcourt, Grant Making Director at Big Lottery Fund, said: “As the largest funder of community activity in the UK, we’re excited about the potential impact of this scheme. We’re proud that National Lottery funding will give even more people the chance to bring this fantastic idea to life in their local area. While the Community Fridge Network offers a simple but effective solution to food waste, more importantly it’s a great opportunity for people to make a difference by coming together to tackle an issue that matters to their community.”
Deborah Clarke, Senior Community Affairs Manager at Sainsbury’s, added: “It’s great that the Big Lottery Fund is able to provide further support to enhance the Community Fridge Network, ultimately resulting in more surplus food reaching more people. Having trialled the concept in a rural market town in Derbyshire and then within an urban community, we’ve now supported 30 fridges across the country from Peterborough to Pembrokeshire and many places in between. We know from our experience that, not only do Community Fridges provide fresh food to those that need it most, but they also bring people together and help connect our communities.”
You can find out more about the Community Fridge Network on Hubbub’s website.