I was spurred on to start this project by the global epidemic of food waste — as much as 50% of all food grown worldwide gets wasted before and after it reaches the consumer. Most of the food waste in the UK is avoidable — it could have been eaten had it been better managed. The Community Fridge: Frome is a simple solution that is replicable across all communities, enabling anyone to share some of this surplus food while cutting costs and emissions.
A Community-Based Solution To Food Waste
It all began in October 2015. Edventure: Frome, a school for community enterprise, challenged our group of nine young adults to tackle food waste in Frome. (A favorite quote of Margaret Mead’s oft cited by Johannes Moeller, the founder of Edventure “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”)
The initial seeds were planted in our ‘Challenge Brief’ by Anna Francis, resilience officer at Frome Town Council who had seen the idea in a Guardian article on ‘Solidarity Fridges’. So over two months of pop-up events and feasts the idea grew: What would happen if we replaced our trash bins and shared our food surplus?
After mulling over the challenge phase of Edventure:Frome I wrote a proposal to Frome Town Council to set up the UK’s first Community Fridge. A controversial idea — a fridge in a colourful disused toilet block in a small town to share unwanted food. Fromes IfF (Independence for Frome) Councillors, eager to support innovative grassroots ideas, said YES! And so the first Community Fridge in the UK, in our little town of Frome, was born.
A Fridge That Builds Community and Reduces Food Waste in Frome, UK
Community Fridge: Frome is a product of the collaboration of many groups, organisations and volunteers. A vast amount of work in the dark; public liability insurance, health and hygiene, angle grinders and spray paint, the radio and TV shone their light in our direction. We launched with a bang: international BBC news, radio and newspapers.
The fridge now proudly wears a five star health and hygiene rating and has saved around 5,000 food items in the four months since we launched. We continue to call all businesses and individuals to be more waste aware.
Share What Food You Have to Spare in Frome, UK
The rule of thumb is simple: Anyone can drop off good but unwanted food, and anyone can help themselves to what is on the shelf. For some of the community members in Frome, the first time they eat is at the evening drop-offs after businesses close and the fridge is booming. For others it is a welcoming space for their gluts in rhubarb from their allotment. The secular nature of donators and collectors has allowed the fridge to spark new community and connections in Frome.
Our fridge is open 8 am – 8 pm and accepts any kind of vegetables, bread, sandwiches and alike, all within their use by date. To avoid any issues with food hygiene, the Community Fridge: Frome does not allow raw meat, fish or eggs. Home cooked food will not be accepted, only food prepared and cooked in a certified kitchen.
A Resource Pack to Help You Start A Community Fridge In Your Area
To support you in starting your own, I created a Community Fridge Resource Pack throughout the launch of the project, full to the brim with tips and information. It is available on a donation basis HERE.
Let’s utilise our food and fight against waste! Let’s recover the time and energy that went into producing that food, and enjoy it!
You could also get involved with the initiative by giving your time and volunteering with your own local community or ‘solidarity’ fridge — more are popping up and the idea is growing, so keep your eyes peeled and taste buds at the ready.
More information, visit our website.
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Teaser photo credit: Frome Community Fridge Facebook page.