A new initiative to cut food waste and tackle food poverty has been started through the installation of a self-service community fridge at a church in Stoke Lodge.
Café Church Bristol (formerly known as Amberley Road Baptist Church) has installed the fridge in a self-contained outhouse that has been built into a recess within the existing church building.
Three times a week, volunteers from the church collect unwanted produce from two local supermarkets (Marks & Spencer and Lidl) in order to re-stock the fridge. In the first week of operation, the partner stores provided large quantities of fresh fruit and veg, along with bread and other bakery products.
Unlike foodbanks, which require their users to be referred by local agencies through a voucher scheme, community fridges are open for everyone to use. They complement foodbanks by providing a source of fresh food (as opposed to long life products) and typically have more flexible opening hours.
Local residents can also place their own excess food in the fridge, so that others can make use of it and prevent it going to waste. This might be fruit and veg from people who ‘grow their own’ and have more than they can use themselves, or food that would otherwise be disposed off before going on holiday.
The food collected from stores has gone past its ‘best before’ but is still good enough to eat. Volunteers check the contents of the fridge twice a day, but say it is ultimately up to the person taking the food to check that it’s OK. No food past its ‘sell by date’ is allowed.
Full instructions for using the community fridge are displayed on notices within the outhouse. There is a list of the types of food that can and cannot be donated and users are asked to record items going in or out in a logbook.
Church family worker Laura Smith said:
“The main aim of the fridge is to reduce food waste. 1.9m tonnes of food is wasted by the food industry each year, meanwhile 8.4m people struggle to afford (healthy) food. When we saw these figures we knew we wanted to do something about it – hence the community fridge!”
Café Church Bristol also hosts a community café between 10am and 12.30pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Drinks and light snacks are available at reasonable prices and there is a small soft play area for children.
Photos: 1 Church minister Andy Thomas and café manager Laura Smith (right) welcome guests to the official opening of the community fridge, which was performed by Cllr Brian Hopkinson (left). 2 The first visitors make their selections from the produce in the fully stocked fridge.
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 18). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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