To combat the appalling amount of food wasted annually, some people are taking matters into their own hands in communities across the world. A unique initiative that seems to be on a slow rise is community fridges.
The idea behind the concept of a community fridge is quite simple. Those who are in need of food can stop by the community fridge anytime day or night and take what they need and leave what they don’t. The rules are simple and almost commonsensical in that you don’t leave behind unsealed products, food that’s rotten, half eaten, etc. It’s a way for local food retailers and producers to donate unsold food and help others as opposed to tossing it in the garbage. For example, a day and a half old pastry may hold little to no commercial value in a bakeries glass display case, but that pastry still has nutritional value. Community fridges operate on honesty and common decency. In some cases, people will volunteer to check up on the community fridge twice a day to ensure all food within the fridge is safe for consumption or not tampered with.
There are food pantries and donation services available in many communities across the world, but with a community fridge in your neighborhood, everything is more direct. It keeps everything local and convenient for those who would really utilize this fridge. You could donate food you aren’t going to eat that’s in your fridge or cupboard as well. Also, with the fridge being available 24/7, people can have access to food or make donations around the clock on their own time.
A community fridge both reduces food waste and hunger. As it is now, according to www.feedingamerica.org, “An estimated 25 – 40 percent of food grown, processed and transported in the US will never be consumed.” That means while many go hungry, much of the food that could have fed them will end up in landfills. This in turn contributes to methane emissions. According to www.feedingamerica.org, “In 2015, 42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children.” That’s just among the United States. Across the world, a lot of food that’s perfectly fine is discarded daily.
Last month, London’s first community fridge named The People’s Fridge was installed in south London. It’s located in the Brixton district in London’s Borough of Lambeth. Other similar fridges have popped up in the UK, but this is the first time it’s been brought to London. Hundreds of other community fridges are already operating in Germany, Spain and India.
I think it would be great to see more community fridges launched in the United States. Since it seems simple enough to operate, I feel more communities should look into investing in a fridge. If all food is safe and well-kept I don’t see an issue with them. As important as it is to seek to donate before discarding food, I feel it’s equally important to be conscious of our own food consumption. I mean this on an individual level in terms of eating out, grocery shopping and things of that nature. If we only buy or eat what we need, we can limit those excess amounts of food that end up being left over.
Adam Urquhart can be contacted at email@example.com