Reduce food waste

A community fridge. Credit: Hubbub
It’s a familiar but heart-breaking paradox. Every day, many millions of people in the UK are experiencing chronic hunger, and the numbers have been growing sharply with the cost-of-living crisis. Yet there are still millions of tonnes of surplus fresh food being thrown away.

In the absence of a concerted government approach to addressing food poverty in the UK, a network of community organisations has grown up.
They collect fresh, nutritious food that cannot be sold from a variety of sources, such as retailers, restaurants, farmers, allotments and households. Some deliver this surplus food daily to local charities and schools; others distribute it from central locations. Their common goal is social inclusion and the eradication of food poverty.

People are often understandably reluctant to acknowledge they need help to feed themselves and their children.  One way round this is to consider these supplies as an environmental initiative to combat food waste. Anyone is welcome to the food, to help get it eaten. One of the biggest positives to come out of surplus food hubs is the networks that are established amongst community groups, volunteers, food suppliers and the local council. It’s not only food moving through these networks, but also information, support and problem solving.

Environmental charity Hubbub coordinates a network of Community Fridges across the UK. These are independent community assets, set up, owned and managed by not-for-profit and community-led organisations. They come in all forms, from community centres and schools to shipping containers, cafes and shopping centres. Unlike most food banks, you don’t need a referral, so anyone can use a community fridge at any time. Some organisers may impose limits on how much you can take, to avoid misuse, but many do not. Hubbub’s Community Fridge Network now supports over 300 groups running fridges across the UK.

Is there a community fridge in your local area? Mid & East Antrim Community Fridge Network offers great advice for setting up a fridge, wherever you are. Food waste is part of a much bigger problem, but you can still make a real impact by working in partnership with the council and food providers.
Grace Kitchen, Bradford Grace Kitchen, Bradford
Start something new…

Go to Hubbub Resources for free guidance on how to set up your own community fridge and help more people in your community who are forced to choose between heating and eating. The guide offers comprehensive support, design assets, a knowledge sharing forum, health and safety templates, even discounted fridges and freezers!

Inspired? Check out many lots more initiatives about land use, food & agriculture.

… or join an existing community project:

There’s a fair amount of organisation needed to run a community fridge: liaising with local shops to donate spare food, opening the fridge for people to collect food, publicising it, for example. All this is done by volunteers, so why not give a bit of your time to help? There are over 300 fridges around the UK so find out if there’s one near to you.

The Transition Network is a global movement of towns, cities and communities where local people are implementing a whole range of projects to transform the place into low-carbon, socially just places with resilient communities. Projects creating more localised food systems such as reducing food waste are often one of the groups within a Transition Town. Is where you live a Transition Town?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert in food or sustainability: a whole range of skills is needed to guarantee the success of projects like these and it’ll also be possible to learn as you go.

Other related community actions: Produce local food, Create a food partnership, Farm for change

What do we mean by community action?
23 community actions