HRH The Prince of Wales today opened the Community Fridge Network’s 100th fridge at Dumfries House to help bring together the local community of East Ayrshire to tackle food waste.
The Community Fridge Network, run by environmental charity Hubbub, supports community fridges across the UK to share good food from local businesses and individuals that would have otherwise gone to waste. Run by local volunteers, the fridges also provide a positive social space for local residents to learn more about food, sustainable eating, growing your own and eating on a budget.
Many of the fridges have provided a lifeline to communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, adapting their offering to support the most vulnerable and families hit particularly hard financially.
The Prince’s Foundation, whose headquarters is at Dumfries House, has set up the fridge to benefit local residents around the former mining communities of Auchinleck and Cumnock. Regular collections of surplus food from local retailers will be organised and food will also be donated from the estate’s Coach House Cafe, Kauffman Education Gardens and The Belling Hospitality Training Centre.
Thousands of school children visit Dumfries House estate every year to take part in hands-on food, farming and horticulture workshops run by The Prince’s Foundation which highlight the provenance of food and importance of sustainable practices. Those managing the community fridge plan to run similar sessions for local residents on how to grow your own fruit and veg, in addition to cooking workshops, and health and wellbeing sessions.
Food waste remains a huge issue in the UK, with £13 billion of edible food thrown away from our homes every year and a further £3 billion of food wasted by the hospitality and food service sector.
With the opening of the 100th community fridge, the network is redistributing an average of 975 tonnes of food surplus per year, the equivalent of approximately 1.9 million meals.
Julie McCluskie, manager of the Coach House Cafe at Dumfries House, will oversee the Dumfries House community fridge. She said: “Sustainability is at the heart of everything The Prince’s Foundation does so we are delighted to officially open the 100th community fridge in partnership with Hubbub. Supporting the local community has always been a huge part of the Dumfries House ethos and we hope that the opening of this fridge will not only be of benefit to local residents but that it will also strengthen our commitment to reducing food waste.”
The first community fridge was opened in 2016 in Derbyshire and the idea has been rolled out in communities across the UK. Unlike food banks, the fridges are available for anyone to use and have given residents an opportunity to try new foods, share recipes and even cook together.
Kanahaya Alam, Community Fridge Network Manager at Hubbub, said: “We’re thrilled that HRH The Prince of Wales has officially opened a Community Fridge on Dumfries House estate. We’ve seen these projects strengthen and enrich communities across the country in community centres, schools, universities and now a country estate. Community fridges are not only tackling food waste but are providing a crucial service at what is a really difficult time for many. We’d love to see more people volunteer for their local fridge, more retailers donate food and more businesses provide sponsorship.”
Neil Ritch, Scotland Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “It’s remarkable that thanks to National Lottery funding, the Community Fridge Network is providing almost 2 million meals a year from food that would have otherwise gone to waste, as well as bringing people together so they can learn more about making the most of the food we have. The pandemic has seen the Network supporting some of the most vulnerable people and families and National Lottery players can be proud that the money they have raised is funding this vital work in an exceptionally difficult time.”
The Community Fridge Network is supported by a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, and the fridge at Dumfries House is one of over 80 kindly donated by fridge manufacturer Liebherr. Retailers redistributing their surplus food across the network include Co-op, Costa, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Riverford Organic, Sainsbury’s, Spar, Tesco and Waitrose, alongside local food businesses around the country.
This week Hubbub launched a Greenprint for a Better Britain – a manifesto of policies seeking to ensure that the UK makes a sustainable recovery from COVID-19. This includes asking the Government to support ‘Community Food Hubs’ in areas of high food insecurity to improve access to healthy food.
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/the-community-fridge.