Community Fridge launches in Darton East to reduce food waste and bring communities together

The first community fridge in Barnsley was launched last week, helping to tackle food waste and supporting those who might need extra help to access food.

Set up by the council, with support from The Co-op and environmental charity Hubbub, the community fridge in Darton East will be open to anyone in the community who would like to donate food or have access to it.

The community fridge is open to everyone in the community - without any need to be referred or having to prove eligibility - to access fresh food that would otherwise have gone to waste. The food is donated by businesses, with the Co-op donating surplus food from its stores.

As well as improving access to food, the fridge goes beyond this by empowering communities to connect with each other and learn new skills through activities such as cookery sessions and workshops on how to grow your own fruit and veg.

The fridge, which can be found at Mapplewell and Staincross Village Hall, will be open to enable residents and local businesses to share surplus food and for anyone to help themselves to quality food that would otherwise be wasted. Donations of unopened, packaged foods within their use-by date and raw fruit or vegetables are also welcome from anyone who would like to donate them.

The new fridge builds on the success of the existing 150 fridges in the Community Fridge Network across the country, which redistribute on average almost 6,000 meals per fridge each month.

Cllr Jenny Platts, Cabinet Spokesperson for Adults and Communities, said: “Community Fridges are a wonderful concept and we’re delighted to launch the first Community Fridge in Barnsley. Everyone in our communities is welcome to get involved, whether by donating or receiving food, or helping out with volunteering at the fridge. This is a fantastic initiative to encourage our communities to come together, support and learn from one another.”

Steve Murrells, Co-op Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “Thanks to our members and customers, we’re delighted to be partnering with Hubbub to expand its community fridge network into Barnsley. It’s an innovative scheme to bring communities together, empowering people towards community-led food solutions that will help to build community resilience.

“As a co-operative, we recognise our responsibility to make a genuine difference and have already made a number of interventions to help tackle food poverty and create fairer access to food, through our food share partnerships and our donations to Fareshare.

“However, our work in our local communities has shown us that to really make a sustainable difference we need to co-operate with others to build the resilience needed for the future.” 

Tessa Tricks, Senior Creative Partner at Hubbub, said: “It’s so exciting that the Community Fridge Network is expanding to Barnsley, and we are looking forward to hearing the success stories from the fridge at Darton East. These fridges play a vital role in communities across the UK by not only providing access to good quality food while reducing food waste but by bringing people together to share and learn skills from one another. In the past year, many of the fridges have provided a lifeline to families struggling as a result of the pandemic and we have seen the fridges turn into a place where people come together and support each other to tackle whatever challenges are thrown at them. They really are more than just a fridge.”

For more information on the Community Fridge Network, including a map of fridge locations and advice for those interested in setting up a community fridge or getting involved with their local community fridge, visit: www.hubbub.org.uk/the-community-fridge. 

If you’re interested in volunteering at the Darton East community fridge, email leylabrooke@barnsley.gov.uk. 

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