One of the first of 100 ‘community fridges’ has opened today.
Following the Co-op’s strong efforts to help tackle food poverty in the UK, in particular for children, the British brand has announced that it is joining forces with environmental charity Hubbub to create 100 community fridges across the UK – with the first of those opening in Wythenshawe just today. The umbrella company, which operates the 4000+ Co-op stores in the UK, prides itself on being in the heart and soul of communities, using its platform on a regular basis to support charities and local initiatives.
Backed by footballer Marcus Rashford – a key figure in the food poverty campaign who was also born and raised in Wythenshawe – the campaign will provide a new source of food for communities, without the need to prove ‘eligibility’ to use the scheme – like many food banks require to ensure stock goes to the right homes.
Stocked with fresh produce donated by businesses, the community fridges will give locals the chance to take home fresh food that would have otherwise gone to waste, with Co-op themselves donating surplus stock to the cause.
As well as improving access to food, the community fridge aims to connect communities with one another, as well as educate locals with cookery classes and workshops on how to grow your own fruit and veg at home.
The initiative plans to open an additional 250 fridges over the next year, saving a further 6.8 million meals per year from going to waste. Speaking of the growing concept, Tessa Tricks, Senior Creative Partner at Hubbub, said: “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 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.”
Steve Murrells, Co-op Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “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.”
Marcus Rashford MBE said: “The Co-op is a valuable founding member of the Child Food Poverty Taskforce and has consistently stepped up to the plate throughout the Global pandemic to support our most vulnerable families. They have demonstrated how community action can make real sustainable change and just how powerful we can be when we come together.
“Together with Hubbub, the Co-op has developed a programme that spans far beyond access to food and I’m so excited to see that my own community in Wythenshawe will benefit.”