How do I get started?  

Two people stood next to an open fridge full of food at one of Hubbub's Community Fridges.
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How do I get started?

Embarking on the journey of setting up a community fridge is as exciting as it is meaningful. On this page, we'll delve into the immediate steps you might take, the support on offer, and key pointers to determine if it's the right project for you and your community. Let’s guide you through the foundational aspects to get you started on the right foot.

Someone stood smiling in front of a community fridge.
In the beginning, I was really focused on getting everything perfect. But now I've learned that as long as you follow the CFN guidelines, make sure your team knows what to do, and have safety measures in place, the way you run your community fridge can evolve to suit your team and the people who visit.

Helen Innes, Milton Keynes Community Fridge

Here are the things to consider before you get started:

Is a community fridge the right project for your area? 

Take a second to think about why its important to you or your group to reduce food waste in your area. By thinking about out your bigger ambitions (we call this a vision) it can help you decide if another type of project might be more suitable, or if setting up a fridge is exactly what your community wants/needs.

Does your community support the idea? 

Before starting a community fridge, make sure this is something your community would like to see. Get early support for the idea - talk with your neighbours, host an information stand or reach out on social media. This way, you get to know what people think, and you make sure that setting up a fridge is a good idea.

Checking there’s food waste in your area: 

Finding surplus food is something each fridge will manage locally and isn’t something Hubbub can support with. To start, you can find surplus food in places like - local farms, allotment associations, food producers, cafes, hotels, and food shops; all might have perfectly good food that they just can't use. Check out platforms like Caboodle, Neighbourly, and Foodiverse - they help groups arrange food collection slots with local supermarkets in your local area.

Organisation type: 

Setting up a fridge means doing some legal stuff. It’s only possible to do this as an official community group or charity rather than trying to do so on your own. If you want to start a fridge you’ll need to register as a food business, get public liability insurance and a bank account to manage your funds. Make sure you have plenty of support around you and other people to help you set up and manage your fridge; unless you’re planning to run a very small fridge it will likely be too much for 1-2 people to handle. So, you’ll need to think about how you can build a great team, all of which is made easier when you are officially a group.

If you're not sure where to begin with setting up a group, take a look at My Community or find local support via NAVCA.  

Reach out to local fridges: 

Use our <map> or reach out on the CFN Facebook group to find fridges near to you and hear firsthand from those managing them. Their experiences will provide insights on:

  • Time commitment and costs required
  • Getting the best out of your location
  • How to raise awareness of your fridge
  • How much surplus food or volunteers to expect
  • How to manage/ recruit the fridge team
  • Essential tips from their journey
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Yes, a separate bank account ensures clear finances, crucial for fundraising and managing fridge operations.

Local businesses, schools, religious buildings or community hubs might be interested in supporting your initiative. They could offer space in return for the benefits the fridge brings to the community.

The primary aim of our fridges is reducing food waste by sharing surplus. Purchasing food doesn't align with this ethos. But, organisations like FareShare can help supplement your stocks. Check out our ethos document to better understand how community fridges operate.

Absolutely! The mission is to foster community spirit and reduce waste, so if you are happy to follow the community fridge ethos, ensuring it's accessible and free to the entire community then we’d encourage you to set one up.

When starting any new project or activity it can be difficult to know where to begin; it's easy to become overwhelmed with all the details, but...fear not, there’s plenty of help on hand:

Join our Facebook group: 
step into a buzzing digital space where community fridges unite! By joining our Facebook group, you become part of a lively and supportive network. Share your milestones, swap stories, glean insights from others' experiences, or simply ask those burning questions. Visit the page -> here

Come along to our monthly meet ups: 
join us for our monthly catchups hosted by the dedicated Hubbub CFN team! These gatherings offer a golden opportunity to share updates on your fridge's journey, hear inspiring tales from other members, and get peace of mind by ensuring you're on the right track. Got a question or need some guidance? This is your chance to seek answers and advice directly from the CFN team. Together, we'll celebrate our successes, address challenges and make sure you have all the support you need. See the next one -> here

Ready to keep learning?

You've got the basics. Now let's start building.