N Norfolk Christians setting up Community fridges
There has been a surge in the growth of Community Fridges, often run by churches and Christian groups. Norfolk already has fourteen up and running, with several more in the pipeline. Tony Rothe reports.
Research suggests that a typical UK household wastes £810 a year by throwing away food and drink which could have been eaten, and that £3 billion is wasted by food sectors. Although there is a growing awareness of food waste, there are not too many easy ways for people or businesses to get food which is near its ‘use by’ date to those who can use it.
Community Fridges are communal places where surplus food is shared between people in a community, by local businesses and individuals. Since the first community fridge was trialled in 2016, at least 100 community fridges have taken root across the UK, helping thousands connect to their neighbours, access nutritious food, save money and reduce waste.
Fourteen of these fridges already operate in Norfolk, with locations at Costessey, Dereham, Dussindale, Earlham, Fakenham, Gorleston, Heartsease, Holt, North Walsham, South Lynn, Swaffham, Thetford (2), Wayland, and Wymondham.
The movement is particularly active in the north of the county, where the Treehouse in Holt have just opened their fridge, and the District Council has just re-launched the popular Community Fridge in North Walsham.
A brand-new community fridge is about to open in Stalham. Jane Skivington, from Stalham Baptist Church, said “Community fridges are becoming a popular way of preventing good food from ending up in the bin. We are in the process of setting one up in Stalham with the help of North Norfolk District Council. We are slowly moving forward and are looking forward to getting the fridge, hopefully before Christmas. We are still waiting for it to come so until we get it we can't do anything. There is a lot more to setting it up than many people realise.
"The idea is for local businesses, or individuals, to be able to donate surplus perishable food which is within its use by dates. This food is then made available for the general public to come and help themselves. There are no criteria required for having food from the fridge as the idea is to prevent waste, but we simply ask that you only take what you need. l'm excited about this as I feel it’s something God called me to do.”
The Sheringham Fridge is still at the planning stage, as they are still seeking a suitable venue for the fridge, in consultation with North Norfolk District Council. Co-ordinator Sadie Houghton said “If anyone runs a cafe or a community space locally, who would be interested in hosting the fridge, I would love to hear from them.”
Hubbub coordinates the world’s only and biggest Community Fridge Network with over 100 community fridges running around the UK and plenty more setting up. They offer free support to groups to set up their community fridge and provide a comprehensive guide, design assets, health and safety templates and a free fridge! They have created a ‘How To’ guide and template materials to take you through, step by step, the stages for setting up a new Community Fridge. They have also created the Community Fridge Network to connect all of the Community Fridge projects across the UK and Ireland, so members can exchange advice and support.
Hubbub say “With each fridge sharing up to four tonnes of food per month, the collective impact of the Community Fridge Network is huge. Every year, 100 community fridges can redistribute 975 tonnes of food surplus (equivalent to 1.9 million meals!) benefitting over 77,000 people.
“What’s more important though, is the stories that we hear from the communities. The fridge brings people together, it addresses social isolation and provides people with the opportunity to access healthy food, try something new and save money. A fridge is often so much more than a fridge. As well as introducing you to new people and foods, community fridges host all kinds of activities such as cooking workshops, allotments, clothes swaps… you name it.”
For more information, visit norfolkrecycles.com or hubbub.org.uk.
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.com