Cool run-ins: London’s first community fridge launches

A ‘community fridge’ has launched in Brixton, south London, where people and businesses can donate spare food to those in need

Powered by a crowdfunding campaign, London’s first community fridge launched this week in Brixton, south London. The People’s Fridge is a public fridge in which local residents and businesses can leave spare, edible food for those who need it. The People’s Fridge is run by a group of volunteers who want to cut food waste, encourage the sharing of food and help tackle food poverty.

Those behind the project say the fridge is also a visual reminder of the importance of reducing food waste

Food waste is thought to cost the UK about £17bn each year with restaurants alone throwing away an estimated 900,000 tonnes of food annually. Households in the UK bin an average of 24 edible meals a month. Meanwhile, some 8.4 million people in the UK – roughly the same as the population of London – live in food insecurity.

Open to anyone, The People’s Fridge offers a secure, managed place for retailers, restaurants and individuals to share fresh food with those who need it. Anyone can donate food or take it out and those behind the project say its presence is also a visual reminder of the importance of reducing food waste. A launch event for the project took place this week in Brixton.

In the process of saving food from the bin we provide a source of fresh food for anyone who needs it

“We want more people to be talking about cutting food waste!” said Olivia Haughton from the project’s team. “In the process of saving food from the bin we provide a source of fresh food for anyone who needs it. The fridge works really simply. People with food to donate can bring it at any time during the day. All they have to do is fill in a quick register of what they’re donating and when, then anyone can come and help themselves. There is no policing of who benefits from the fridge, all we ask is that people don’t take food if they suffer from any food allergies and that they sign the food out of the fridge when they take it.”

Scores of similar projects have already been launched in Spain, Germany and India as well as in Frome, Somerset and more recently Derbyshire. The People’s Fridge is situated in the heart of Brixton’s foodie hotspot [community project and event venue] Pop Brixton, whose traders have agreed to help stock and clean the fridge each day.

Chillingly simple: anyone can donate food to The People’s Fridge

“The response has been fantastic,” said Haughton. “We’ve had a huge surge of positivity from the Brixton and Lambeth [the London borough in which the project operates] community as well as masses of support on Twitter. Jamie Oliver has launched his own community fridges in Southend and, when we met him last summer, he was really keen to show his support for The People’s Fridge and other local community fridge projects.”

With a crowdfunding target of £1,000 broken in just three days, The People’s Fridge project went on to raise a total of £2,270 to enable the team to provide better support for food sharing in Brixton. The crowdfunding campaign ended in July 2016. The project is backed by Pop Brixton, the Lambeth Food Partnership, Incredible Edible Lambeth, the Brixton Pound and Impact Hub Brixton.

We’ve had a huge surge of positivity from the Brixton and Lambeth community

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Images: Sebastian Wood

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