On Monday 17th September Transition Leytonstone launched London’s fifth Community Fridge and the first of its kind in Waltham Forest. The fridge is being launched with the backing of North London Waste Authority and Bosch in a growing effort to tackle food waste. Support also comes from environmental charity Hubbub which runs the national Community Fridge Network.
The fridge, located at Café de Montmartre, 34 Church Lane, Leytonstone, E11 1HG will be open 12pm-3pm Monday to Friday to enable residents and businesses to share surplus food and for anyone to help themselves to quality food that would otherwise be wasted. Transition Leytonstone is inviting all food businesses in the area to donate surplus food from 17th September onwards and for volunteers to get in touch with immediate effect.
Householders can also donate unopened, packaged foods within their use by date or raw fruit or vegetables, which helps to alleviate the £½ billion worth of perfectly edible food gets thrown away in the UK when people head off on holiday. Residents using the fridge can share recipes and tips for making the most of their food.
Unlike many of the capital’s Community Fridges which exist inside community centres, the Leytonstone Community Fridge which comprises of two fridges and one freezer donated by Bosch can be found in a funky shelter designed by local spatial designers, Made With Volume.
It is the third London Fridge to be supported by North London Waste Authority to encourage residents to share their surplus food. A full list of fridges can be found here.
Food waste is a big issue in the UK. The average household throws away £810 worth of food every year and at the same time 4 million people in the UK are living in food poverty. Most food waste in the UK (4.4 million tonnes) is avoidable and could have been eaten had it been better managed.
Diana Korchien, Fridge Co-ordinator at Transition Leytonstone, said: “Donating, volunteering, sharing – these are satisfying activities common to all human social groupings. Beyond simply reducing food waste, the Fridge will play a socially important role in strengthening community ties; Transition Leytonstone are anticipating a steady growth in regular users. To meet this need, we intend to increase our storage capacity in the near future by installing a second fridge and freezer powered entirely by solar energy and have already raised a good proportion of the funds needed. Any monies offered to us by Fridge users will go directly into our solar fund.”
NLWA said: “We’re very pleased to be providing funding for this latest community fridge, (the third we have supported in north London and it’s the fifth in the capital). Community Fridges really help communities to reduce waste, provide access to nutritious food and save money. Because, despite growing awareness of food waste, there’s always more that can be done. Donating any surplus fresh produce or unopened packaged food to a community fridge is one of the easiest ways of cutting down on wastage. We’d therefore encourage local residents to get involved by donating unwanted food, volunteering to help run the fridge or by using it – it’s a community resource.”
The fridge will be opened by Cllr Clyde Loakes, with vegetarian refreshments provided by Café de Montmartre. Anyone is welcome to give or take from the fridge during opening hours. Transition Leytonstone will be linking the Community Fridge with their longstanding successes the Best Before Project and Community Garden. Before long, the Community Fridge will be partially powered by solar energy.
Also known as ‘Solidarity’ or ‘Honesty’ Fridges, Community Fridges have been successfully introduced in Spain, Germany and other parts of the UK. There are currently 33 Community Fridge Network Fridges open across the UK, which on average redistribute half a tonne of food per month.
Some of the challenges faced by Community Fridge Organisers are around the legal requirements and food hygiene. The Community Fridge Network provides free advice, resources and support to Community Fridge organisers and act as a hub to enable communities to share their experiences and learn from each other.