Northern Ireland’s first ever ‘Community Fridge’ is to be trialled in the north Antrim village of Cloughmills with the support of environmental charity Hubbub UK and Bosch in a growing effort to tackle food waste.
The fridge, located at The Old Mill on Cloughmills’ Main Street, will be activated at a launch on Thursday and will be open every day to enable residents and businesses to share surplus food and for anyone to help themselves to quality food that would otherwise be wasted.
£13 billion of food is thrown away each year by UK households rather than being eaten and a further £3 billion of food is wasted by the hospitality and food service sector.
Despite increasing awareness of the issue of food waste, until now there have been limited options for households and food businesses to get surplus perishable food to those who need it safely and within the ‘use-by’ date.
Some of the most commonly wasted food from UK homes includes fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, meat and ready meals. Meanwhile cafés and restaurants often dispose of sandwiches and cooked food if they can’t sell it on the day it’s made.
Cloughmills Community Action Team who will be the host agency for the fridge is calling all food businesses in the Cloughmills area to donate surplus food from August 10 onwards.
Patrick Frew, Chair of Cloughmills Community Action Team said: ”As hosts of the first community fridge in Northern Ireland we believe this project represents a significant opportunity for us to put food at the heart of our community and use food sharing to greatly enhance social cohesion locally.
“We know our fridge will bring people from all backgrounds together as we tackle the often hidden costs of food waste. It will lead to all sorts of conversations and actions around how we develop as a community and how we make best use of this concept of sharing.
“We want to take these key messages to the whole community in Northern Ireland and will actively seek opportunities to do so.’
The two fridges and a freezer, donated by Bosch are available for anyone to access from today Thursday August 10. Initial opening times are:- Monday 10am – 12pm; Tuesday 10am – 12pm; Wednesday closed; Thursday 10am – 12pm and 7pm – 9pm; Friday closed; Saturday 2pm – 4pm;
Otherwise known as ‘Solidarity’ or ‘Honesty’ Fridges, Community Fridges have been successfully introduced in Spain, Germany and other parts of the UK.
In 2016 Hubbub helped South Derbyshire Community Voluntary Service (CVS) set up the Swadlincote Community Fridge, supported by Sainsbury’s plc and Bosch. During the initial six month trial period it re-distributed 2,290kg worth of food, that would have otherwise been wasted. Food was collected by over 800 individuals who visit the fridge, as well given to 12 community groups.
Since the Sainsbury’s Swadlincote pilot, Hubbub has been inundated with enquiries from people wanting to set up a Community Fridge. Hubbub, Sainsbury’s and Bosch recently launched the Community Fridge Network which aims to support fridges in 50 communities across the UK over the next year. C
loughmills is one of five new Community Fridges to open this summer with others in Milton Keynes and three locations in North London (Manor House, Leytonstone and Old Street).
Some of the challenges faced by Community Fridge Organisers are around the legal requirements and food hygiene. The Community Fridge Network will provide free advice and support to Community Fridge organisers and act as a hub to enable disparate communities to share their experiences and learn from each other.
To find out more, donate or volunteer visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1053557231335522/
More information on The Community Fridge Network, including a map of fridge locations and advice for those interested in setting up a community fridge can be found at www.hubbub.org.uk/communityfridgenetwork