A significant milestone

The Community Fridge Network has hit a significant milestone with the opening of the 200th Community Fridge at Lancaster West Estate in North Kensington, London. Thanks to the Network over 13.6 million meals* are being redistributed annually. The number of Community Fridges has doubled in a year, a growth fuelled through funding from the National Lottery and a partnership with the Co-op who have provided financial backing for 100 new Community Fridge projects across the UK. The Lancaster West Community Fridge marks the 50th fridge funded by Co-op.

So much more than just a fridge

Community Fridges are social spaces where anyone can share surplus food. They reduce food waste and are hubs within local communities for activities such as cookery sessions and workshops on how to grow fruit and veg. On average, each fridge redistributes an average of 2.4 tonnes of food per month, enough to make 5,683 meals.

The new Community Fridge has been established with the support of the Lancaster West Neighbourhood Team and Lancaster West Residents’ Association and is expected to support up to 1,500 residents on the estate. The ambition is for it to become a vibrant centre within the community, celebrating the diversity of food culture on the estate and a focal point for local growing schemes.

Thanks to funding from the Kusuma Trust, local residents will be given the opportunity to develop a new community garden, which includes training and support on how to grow their own vegetables and herbs. This will be coupled with the distribution of ‘Give it a Grow’ kits which will encourage residents to try growing at home.

Benefitting communities in unique and impactful ways

The Community Fridge Network has grown to become a significant part of Hubbub’s work and brings five values which are core to our approach:

1) Benefiting people and planet together

They provide environmental, social and financial benefits to local communities. The principle objective for a Community Fridge is to reduce food waste, which is why they are open to all members of the public allowing anybody to share food. Increasingly, we have recognised that they’ve become an important meeting point, bringing people together, helping to reduce isolation and strengthening connections within local communities. And as well as reducing food waste, the provision of free food has provided a lifeline for many, helping to make household budgets go further.

2) Easy to scale

The Community Fridges are run by a wide variety of diverse local groups ensuring that they meet the needs of their community. The rapid growth of the Network illustrates that many communities are facing increased financial pressures as well as a desire to reduce the environmental impact of food waste. Hubbub’s role is to make it as easy as possible for groups to establish and run their Community Fridge themselves. We do this by providing guidance and advice, promotional support, connections with retailers and access to potential funds. We believe this approach maximises impact and creates a legacy.

3) Valued local connections

The local groups running Community Fridges provide an opportunity to learn what is of immediate importance to their community. This means we can extend our support in the development of new solutions which can potentially be extended nationally. Part of this support has included the creation of a local grant fund allowing groups to experiment with different food related activities. This fund has revealed that groups want support around cooking, food knowledge and building more local resilience.

4) Reaching all sections of society

The Community Fridges reach all sections of society which has been traditionally challenging for environmental campaigns. With funding generously provided by the Rothschild Foundation, Hubbub will be actively reaching out to some of the most underserved areas in the UK where there is currently no Community Fridge and providing additional support to help local groups get new fridges established.

5) Collaboration is at the heart of the approach

This ranges from the wide number of retailers who provide surplus food to the fridges, through to the diverse range of groups running the fridges. Hubbub is convinced that delivering impact at scale requires organisations from across society to work constructively together and The Community Fridge Network demonstrates the power of this approach.

Supporting The Community Fridge Network

Looking forward to next year, Hubbub is aiming for continued growth in the number of fridges and to help groups to diversify the range of support they offer to local communities, concentrating on cooking and food growing skills. If you are interested in supporting these ambitions, please contact [email protected].

Have you heard our Podcast 'Down To Earth'? Have a listen below to our episode on the power of a fridge to knit together communities.

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*Meals equivalent; WRAP recommends the use of 420g as an ‘average’ meal weight, for the purposes of illustrating the amounts of food being redistributed. Across the network, each fridge redistributes an average of 2.4 tonnes of food per month – enough to make 5,683 meals.