In 2017 Frome’s Community Fridge saved nearly 24 tonnes of food that would otherwise have been thrown away – equivalent in weight to around three African elephants.
The aim of the Fridge is to reduce food waste. An estimated 15 million tonnes of food is wasted each year in the UK, which is enough to fill Wembley Stadium 18 times over. At the same time 4 million people live in food poverty in the UK.
Frome Town Councillor Peter Macfadyen who helped to set up the project, in partnership with Edventure Frome, said ‘Sharing food that would otherwise be wasted makes a lot of sense. Valuable water and land are used to produce and package our food, transporting items creating pollution and, when thrown away in landfill, food waste gives out harmful methane as it decomposes, contributing to climate change. The fridge is a simple solution to enabling people to share this surplus.’
The Community Fridge: Frome launched in May 2016 and is now collecting around 4,000 items each month. Located in the Loop de Loop Gallery in the Cheese and Grain car park, it is open from 8am to 8pm every day. A dedicated team of volunteers collects the food from local shops and food outlets, and records the food in the Fridge’s log-book. The food is then available for anyone to take and make use of. Volunteers are also involved in making sure the fridge is clean and at the correct temperature.
The organisers are keen to stress that the food in the Fridge is for everybody – children as well as adults – and it is not just for those in need. “Most items in the Fridge need to be used up quickly, so if you can make use of them, please don’t be shy about taking them,” said Fridge co-ordinator Helen Johnstone.
Although the Fridge has many loyal supporters in town, there have been a couple of occasions where food has been taken and thrown around and the stool (which is essential for one of the disabled volunteers) has been stolen a number of times. If the problems continue, organisers might have to close the fridge earlier or consider other action
The success of the Fridge, which was the first to open in the UK, has encouraged many other Fridges to open across the country, in places as diverse as Sheffield, Norfolk and Dorking.
If you would like to support the Fridge, please contact Helene Johnstone at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her 07812 509051. You can also pop into SHARE on the Bridge. Full details can be found at https://edventurefrome.org/enterprises-initiatives/fridge/