- The funding comes from community fridge partners Co-op, who have been supporting the expansion of the network since 2021
- The investment aims to create more opportunities for communities to share food, reduce waste, connect with each other and learn new skills
- The Community Fridge Network is now sharing over 1 million meals every month across the UK
The environmental charity Hubbub has today announced £3 million of funding from Co-op to invest in its Community Fridge Network, as the partnership is set to continue over the next three years The funding is thanks to Co-op members raising funds by shopping at Co-op.
The Community Fridge Network connected over 450 community fridges across the UK in 2022 and has continued to grow this year, creating spaces for people to come together to share food, connect with their local communities and learn new skills, while saving food that would otherwise go to waste.
The new investment aims to grow the impact of the existing network by supporting fridges to become integral to their local community, like at the Elmbridge Eco Hub. In the past seven months, as well as sharing 5.6 tonnes of food to 2,600 residents, the group has transformed a disused bowling green into an award-winning community garden with the help of over 300 local volunteers.
Hubbub will also be supporting groups to share knowledge and inspiration across the network, as well as funding 75 fridges in new locations across the UK.
The announcement comes as Hubbub publishes its annual impact report for the Community Fridge Network, which shows both huge growth and huge demand for the project, with community fridges now open in every region. The report estimates that in 2022, more than 7,000 tonnes of surplus food were collectively shared across the network – the equivalent of nearly 17 million meals. This is almost six times the amount in 2019, when the network shared three million meals in a year.
Ellen Rutherford, Head of Food at Hubbub said: “The Community Fridge Network has expanded quickly over the past couple of years, thanks to Co-op’s continued support. Last year, the network grew from 270 fridges to 450, with 1.2 million visits across the country. We are now seeing an average of 1.5 tonnes of food being shared per fridge each month and this new investment will help to sustain the network as it continues to evolve. We believe community fridges are about more than sharing food. While originally set up to tackle food waste, the network has proven how important it is for communities to have a place to connect and food is a very powerful way for people to do this. We’re looking forward to seeing how much more the network can achieve through the new funding over the coming years.”
Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Member Participation at Co-op said: “As a member-owned co-operative, we recognise our responsibility to make a genuine difference in our local communities and believe that everybody should have access to good food. We are extremely pleased that we can continue to work with our partner Hubbub to grow the community fridge network, helping people across the UK to come together, have access to food, and reduce food waste. This partnership would not have been possible without Co-op members, and their drive to ensure we support their local communities to make sure that everyone has fair access to food.”
Community fridges are social spaces where anyone can share surplus food, this includes surplus food from supermarkets, local food businesses, producers, households and gardens. They not only reduce food waste but empower communities to come together and help one another.
UK households waste 6.5 million tonnes of food every year, 4.5 million of which is edible.* The value of this wasted food is £14 billion – meaning the average person throws away around £210 per year/£730 for a family of four.** As the cost of living crisis continues, many of the Community Fridges have provided a lifeline to people struggling to feed their families.
For more information about the Community Fridge Network including ways to get involved, visit: https://www.hubbub.org.uk/the-community-fridge To access the impact report, visit: https://cdn2.assets-servd.host/hubbub-uk/production/assets/images/CFN-annual-report_2022.pdf