“Community fridges are where residents come together to share food supplies. They have become a meaningful and crucial resource worldwide during the ongoing coronavirus crisis. It’s based on the premise that community should be a means of survival during times of scarcity – particularly when the institutions we depend on fail to provide sufficient support and resources.
This idea of community care shone throughout the pandemic, fueled by various food banks handing out donations to vulnerable citizens. But individuals also found a solution to help each other with food security without the need of an organization through the use of community fridges. And the initiative also helps reduce food waste.
So, what is a community fridge exactly? It’s as the name implies: a fridge put in a public location where residents can drop off unwanted and unused food items in hopes of supporting other members of the community that has been hit hard by the pandemic. The movement runs on a goodwill basis, with people trusting each other to be respectful and honest.
It’s already a popular project in many places. In New York, it began as a way to reduce shame and divert food waste. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Love Fridge also offers mutual aid to families in need.
Around 100 million people experience food insecurity across Central Asia and Europe – and that figure has likely risen due to the pandemic. However, at the same time, an estimated 20% of food produced in Europe is either lost or wasted.
Fortunately, community fridge programs continue to expand in the UK. The way communities show up for others leaves residents and volunteers delighted and motivated. For example, Hubbub trialed its first community fridge in 2016 in Derbyshire. It went so well that now they coordinate over 150 community fridges across the country, with more being set up every day. Hubbub even partnered with UK supermarket chain Co-op recently, and together they plan to expand to 250 fridges by the end of 2022.
Back in Europe, similar schemes have popped up in different countries. For example, in the small village of Galdakao, located just outside of Bilbao, Spain, there’s a program called Solidarity Fridge. It started in 2015 with one fridge and has since spread to several other locations across the country, including Barcelona, Valencia, and smaller villages and towns. Many restaurants, local businesses, and residents regularly donate to the fridges….”