Hubbub has brought together a coalition of organisations including Sainsbury’s, Bosch and North London Waste Authority to launch the world’s first Community Fridge network. Our ambition is to establish 50 Community Fridges across the UK over the next twelve months redistributing perishable food that would have been wasted to local households.

Hubbub will be providing financial support and skilled advice helping households save money, building stronger communities and cutting food waste. The concept of Community Fridges first appeared in Berlin, spread to Spain and is starting to take hold in the UK. Hubbub has been amongst the pioneering groups exploring how to run a Community Fridge safely and with maximum benefit to the local community.

Our experience has enabled us to bring together a group of funders and a level of knowledge that will be used to support a variety of local groups helping them to establish Community Fridges in their area.

What does a Community Fridge involve?

Each Community Fridge is likely to consist of three appliances - two fridges and one freezer, although it's up to the community to decide what's right for their needs. Having several units allows for one of the fridges and the freezer to take perishable food that would have been wasted from local retailers and redistribute it to people struggling to pay bills through local community networks. The other fridge will be an ‘honesty’ fridge open to all members from the community regardless of their personal circumstance.

How do they operate?

How the Community Fridges operate will vary depending upon local need and circumstance but most will have set opening times, will be monitored by CCTV cameras and follow strict regulations designed to meet hygiene standards.

Trust and honesty are essential to a successful Community Fridge and people have questioned whether they will work in the UK. These concerns seem to be unfounded. The first trial fridges have operated safely and demonstrated a huge need for the support they provide. Comments in the guest book at the Camberwell fridge in London have included:

Without this wonderful service, me and my children would never eat fresh fruit and veg. I am a single mum with no recourse to any public funds. I am also able to have many other chats here. All the staff are welcoming and make me feel they care. Thank you everyone.

and

Amazing, Got food, fresh food, eggs and bread. I am skint, still waiting for benefits. It is a life saver and it makes you feel good.

This level of demand suggests that there are disturbing fault-lines in UK society resulting in people struggling to put food on the table. These need to be remedied by changes in policy, but in the meantime Community Fridges can play an essential role in reducing food waste, helping households and building communities.

The Community Fridge Network will help ensure that a growing number of successful and sustainable fridges are established. To learn more, visit our Community Fridge network event page.