In the UK we throw away around £17 billion worth of food a year, and each UK household throws away around 24 edible meals a month.
Meanwhile, 8.4 million people in the UK – a figure about the same as the population of London – are living each day experiencing food insecurity.
Food security is defined in ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2001’ as “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.
In order to help raise the amount of people who can have access to food security, groups of people are bringing community fridges to areas where people struggle with getting the food they need. This movement allows those with enough food to have it creatively redistributed. The model is effective in reducing the disconnect between food waste and food poverty, as the donations can go straight to those who will seriously benefit from the food, cutting out the ‘middle man’.
These fridges have been set up all over the world, from Germany and Spain to India and Bahrain, and on sites in Swadlincote, and Frome in the UK. The Facebook page of Frome’s fridge shows that in September 2016 alone, 2523 items were donated, up from 1089 in June!
London’s first of its kind – The People’s Fridge – recently came to Brixton in February after more than double the target amount of money was raised through crowdfunding. The People’s Fridge is open for donations of fresh food from market retailers, restaurants, and anyone else, and is kept safe and clean by those who work around it. They also monitor that nobody puts raw meat, homemade goods, or opened containers of foods in the fridge. However, there is no reason that other foodstuffs which a local shop or restaurant hasn’t been able to sell can’t help an individual or family experiencing food security.
Perhaps Oxford could benefit from a similar fridge, but in the meantime projects like our own are working to help the redistribution of surplus food while raising money for a range of local action groups.
If you are interested in having more information about community fridge projects, or even setting up one in your local area, have a look at the website for hubbub.org.uk : https://www.hubbub.org.uk/the-community-fridge