Community fridge network for tackling food waste set to double

A community fridge network which helps tackle the issue of food waste is to double in size by the end of 2020, its founders have said.

Environmental charity Hubbub founded the network in 2017 to provide a place for local people and businesses to donate surplus food which is then available for anyone in the community to take.

The first 50 fridges around the UK are each saving an average of half a tonne of food from going to waste per month, with the network redistributing the equivalent of around 50,000 meals on a monthly basis, Hubbub said.

Community fridge network
Hubbub runs a community network of 50 fridges (Hubbub/PA)

In addition, people are sharing skills, the fridges are often linked to cooking and growing workshops and residents are sharing other household items as well as food, a survey of 21 of the community schemes shows.

Now, with funding from the National Lottery, Hubbub has announced plans to open a further 50 sites over the next two years, bringing the total to 100 community fridges by the end of 2020.

The network aims to tackle the problem of food waste in the UK, with an estimated £13 billion worth of food thrown away from homes each year, much of which is avoidable, and £3 billion from the hospitality and food sector.

To mark the success of the scheme, Hubbub has teamed up with 2013 MasterChef winner Natalie Coleman, who is visiting Food Academy Community Fridge in Newham, London, and will be making dishes from the ingredients she discovers there.

Hubbub founder and chief executive Trewin Restorick said: “We’re thrilled with how successful community fridges have been and the rapid growth of the network.

“The fridges not only save valuable food, they help bring people together and have become real community hubs.

“Some people had doubts at the outset as to whether the community fridge network would work, but the fridges have developed to be positive, social spaces that have proven the doubters wrong.

“We’d encourage anyone interested in visiting or opening a fridge to visit our website and we’d love even more businesses to get involved, as demand is outstripping supply in some areas.”

Community fridge network
The network aims to tackle the problem of food waste in the UK (Hubbub/PA)

James Harcourt, England director at the National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, another 50 community fridges are set to open across the UK.

“We are proud to be supporting Hubbub, which gives communities the opportunity to learn new skills and create a healthier and greener lifestyle together by sharing food and reducing waste.

“Not only will this strengthen communities, but also enable them to thrive.”

The network provides free advice, resources and support to community fridge organisers around issues such as legal requirements and food hygiene, as well as creating opportunities for communities to share and learn from each other.

The community fridge network and fridges within the network have been funded by backers including the National Lottery Community Fund, Sainsbury’s, the Rothschild Foundation, Bosch, North London Waste Authority, the Morrisons Foundation, Samsung and the Climate Challenge Fund.