Fighting food waste one fridge at a time

Ruth picking up food from a Community FridgeWe are very excited to be able to launch the first of two new Community Fridges in Brighton & Hove on Wednesday 30th May.

The fridge is to be placed in Phoenix Community Centre, 2 Phoenix Place, Brighton, BN2 9ND which is managed by landlords the Hyde Group.  It will be open to the public from 9am-12pm and 2:30pm-5:00pm Monday to Friday.

The location is central, right near London Road & the Level where lots of food businesses are located and easily accessible for residents in the area.

The second fridge will be located at Whitehawk Inn and is expected to arrive later this summer.

We have been able to fund these schemes through Sainsbury’s Waste Less Save More campaign and a donation of two fridges from Liebherr.

What is a community fridge?

A community fridge is a tried and tested way of stopping good food ending up in the bin.  It is housed in a public, accessible place, making surplus food freely available to anyone who wants it. The surplus food is provided by local businesses or members of the public.

Anyone will be able to pick up food from the Phoenix Centre fridge for free. It will not be policed and its operation is based on trust.

Community Fridges have been installed in many other places across the country and are being supported by Hubbub – a national charity that coordinate the ‘Community Fridge Network’.

Why is it needed?

A successful community fridge deals with many different issues at the same time. They are a fantastic way to deal with surplus food which has a huge impact on the environment. They can help people in food poverty to access free food, and they are a chance to bring the community together over a shared resource.

Surplus Food

Food is wasted throughout the supply chain in the UK.  Farmers throw away millions of tonnes of food before it even leaves the fields – 10-16 % of their crop.  The UK food and drink supply chain wastes 1.9 million tonnes of food a year.  When it is time for us to shop, we buy too much, change our plans and throw away a whopping £470 per household of food a year.

‘In a world of seven billion people, set to grow to nine billion by 2050, wasting food makes no sense – economically, environmentally and ethically. Aside from the cost implications, all the land, water, fertilizers and labour needed to grow that food is wasted – not to mention the generation of greenhouse gas emissions produced by food decomposing on landfill and the transport of food that is ultimately thrown away’ – UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

Food waste also contributes to the growing amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills. When food or drink hasn’t been removed, the container cannot be recycled.

The fridge can be used by both households and businesses; if you think you are likely to waste something, pop it down to the fridge.

Food Poverty

8.4 million people in the UK, the equivalent of the entire population of London, are struggling to afford to eat.  In Brighton alone 1 in 5 residents feel they don’t have enough money to cover their basic living costs.

We currently have 17 different food banks in the city which do a fantastic job; however, you need a referral to join one and you can only access them for a few weeks and on a certain day.

The fridge can be accessed immediately if you are hungry and need some food.

There are many people who can benefit from this scheme; whether you are unemployed, low-waged, homeless, on benefits or a student.  The fridge provides an opportunity for anyone to pick up free food.

Launch of community fridge at Phoenix centreCommunity

Loneliness is a big problem in the UK.  Those who feel a weaker connection to their community feel lonely more often according to the latest ONS loneliness survey.  Through the fridge you can get to know your local community centre, meet people & possibly even volunteer.

Donating food

 The Community Fridge at Phoenix Centre will be able to accept things like; sealed packaged foods, cheeses, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, table sauces, pastry, unopened milk and yoghurt, unopened fruit juices and salads, and eggs if they are in date.

Unfortunately, it cannot accept home-cooked food or cooked food from unregistered sources, cooked food that doesn’t have a use-by date, cooked rice, pates, bean sprouts and food made from unpasteurised milk.

Find out more about the Community Fridge project.

“We are really excited to be at the forefront of delivering this project in partnership with Brighton & Hove Food Partnership and HubBub. I hope we can really help some of the people who might be struggling for a meal in our local community and make a positive impact on food waste.

This is a fantastic project and has real potential to grow if more partners and organisations are willing to take part. We’re already looking at involving our own community garden project which grows fresh vegetables, so it’s exciting to see how this project will evolve.”

Sean Sheppard, Hyde's Community Centre Supervisor at the Phoenix Centre

Here at the Food Partnership, we hope that this fridge will be the start of many to come; housed in community centres, churches and other venues across Brighton & Hove.

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