New way of sharing food in Crowborough to prevent waste

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Update: Sadly the organisers have had to cancel the launch event planned for 26th March – more information about their plans to start a Community Fridge in Crowborough will follow. In the meantime they would encourage other volunteers to get involved.


A Community Fridge is launching in Crowborough later this month.

Local supermarkets and independent retailers donate food that they can no longer sell (but that is still good to eat). Others can donate surplus food, for example allotment holders or gardeners, when they have a glut of fruit or veg at harvest time.

As Chairperson Hilary McIntosh explained anyone can use the Community Fridge for free:

Anyone can use the Fridge – the food is free and no questions will be asked, all they ask is that visitors only take what they need.

The idea is to stop good food going in the bin. Not only does it help tackle food waste, but also goes toward helping those who struggling financially.

Hilary McIntosh
Crowborough Community Fridge

There will be a wide range of different foods to collect for free, including fresh produce, chilled and frozen foods.

The idea for the Fridge in Crowborough has been in the pipeline for some months. Hilary was a Food Champion with the Alderbrook Community Association, now it has grown with members undergoing training, finding a suitable venue and obtaining the public liability insurance needed to open. Eventually the Fridge will become it’s own Community Interest Company or similar; but being supported initially by the Alderbrook Community Association has allowed it to move at a faster pace.

Uckfield’s Fridge opened in October and there are now 250 in the Hubbub Fridge Network. In the meantime, volunteers have been using the OLIO food-sharing app to redistribute food.

Over 7,000 items from Tesco

St Riachard's Church Hall
Food donated by Tesco at St Richard’s Church Hall

Last week, when Tesco in Crowborough was closed because of damage from the storms, volunteers stopped over 7,000 food items being wasted. People rallied around to collect crates of bread and fruit & veg that was nearing its best-before date. The food was shared with the community at various pick-up points. On the last day (Thursday 24th) over 60 people turned-up at St Richard’s Church Hall and collected around 3,000 items.

Where and When

Crowborough Community Fridge will be based in the café at the Crowborough Community Centre. It will be open on Tuesday afternoons, and Thursday & Saturday mornings. There will be an official opening on Saturday 26th March at 2pm.

A meeting was held yesterday evening (Monday 28th) for those people interested in helping at the Fridge or by collecting surplus food for them; but there is still time to get involved if you are interested in volunteering.

Hilary has recently obtained a Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate, and she is in a position to train other volunteers in food handling and correct storage techniques.

One crucial thing they are missing at the moment however is a large commercial fridge. Hilary said ideally it should be a display fridge with glass at the front, so the produce can be seen without having to repeatedly open the doors. It would also be helpful if it was on casters so that it can be easily moved. They do have some limited funds available, so if you know of someone who has a second-hand one available who is willing sell it at a reasonable price, or even to donate it, get in touch. They would also love to hear from any local companies that might be interested in sponsoring this great community project.

They are also open for other independent retailers, restaurant or café owners interested in joining the scheme.

If you would like to find-out more, or would like to support the project, either follow them on Facebook or email crowboroughcommunityfridge@gmail.com.

Take action on Food Waste

It is estimated that as much as 100,000 tonnes of edible food goes uneaten. As well as retailers and food manufacturers taking action, there are things we can do at home to reduce food waste.

The waste and recycling charity WRAP thinks that we can halve the amount of food we throw away at home by taking simple steps.

  • Pre-planning your meals to stop you buying groceries that will not get eaten.
  • Freezing any leftovers to be enjoyed at a later date.
  • Getting your portions right, so you don’t cook too much rice, pasta or potatoes.
  • Learning how best to store your food so it stays fresh for longer

With Food Waste Action Week taking place from 7th until 13th March, WRAP say it is a great time to form new habits for how to waste less while also reducing your food bills.

For more ideas and recipes, see their Love Food, Hate Waste website.

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