Reduce food waste

Farm to fork

Be part of the solution

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.