A COMMUNITY Fridge to help reduce food waste and encourage a spirit of sharing has been launched in High Wycombe.

The new initiative has been launched by the Women’s Cultural Arena – a multi-cultural, multi-faith women’s group based at All Saints’ Church in the town centre. The fridge,  located at Wycombe’s Oakridge Baptist Church, is supported by the environmental charity Hubbub and funded by a grant from the Rothschild Foundation.

The fridge was launched by Mayor of High Wycombe, Cllr Sarfaraz Khan Raja, at an event attended by representatives from the Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities as well as community groups, councillors and the supermarkets that will be donating produce.

The fridge will be run by the WCA, which brings together women from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds to support one another and promote cultural exchange. The group will welcome donations of unopened, packaged foods within their use by date or raw fruit or vegetables and anyone who needs it will be able to receive the food.  As well as reducing food waste, the group will use the fridge to strengthen community bonds, as a hub for food education and to promote the benefits of sharing.

Shanthi Priyalatha from the Women’s Cultural Arena, said: “Community Fridges are a wonderful concept and we’re delighted to be hosting the first for High Wycombe. All our visitors are welcome to get involved, whether by giving or receiving food or by giving their time, sharing skills or perhaps running an activity such as a community dinner or cooking class. The WCA is uniquely positioned to support cross-cultural households within the community to use the fridge in a way that is free of stigma and promotes the exchange of culture, skills, friendship and time, as well as surplus food distribution.”

The Revd Hugh Ellis, the Vicar of All Saints’, said: “The WCA very much see All Saints’ as their church and Shanti is very pro-active with community activities. When she came up with the Community Fridge idea the PCC were very supportive but we didn’t have the physical space for it. We work closely with Oakridge Baptist Church on Christian Muslim relations and it’s great they are able to host the fridge.”

A second Buckinghamshire Community Fridge funded by the Rothschild Foundation will be opened early in the New Year at the Vineyard Church in Gatehouse Close, Aylesbury.

James Tweats, who heads Vineyard Storehouse, the arm of the church that will be managing the Aylesbury fridge, said: “We’re delighted to be hosting this great new project, supporting local families in maintaining their well-being and withstanding the shocks and stresses of life, by access to good quality fresh food. The Community Fridge will run within the same framework as our other community initiatives, which are for people of all faiths or none. As the Community Fridge project will largely be staffed by volunteers, anyone interested in becoming involved is encouraged to contact the Vineyard at storehouse@aylesburyvineyard.org.”

Also known as ‘Solidarity’ or ‘Honesty’ Fridges, Community Fridges have been successfully introduced in Spain, Germany and other parts of the UK. There are currently 35 Community Fridge Network fridges across the UK, which on average redistribute half a tonne of food per month.

The High Wycombe fridge will be open from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Mondays and Thursdays to enable residents and businesses to share surplus food and for anyone to help themselves to quality food that would otherwise be wasted.  Click here for more information on The Community Fridge Network. 

The average household throws away £810 worth of food every year. Most food waste in the UK (4.1 million tonnes or 61 per cent) is avoidable and could have been eaten had it been better managed.