Co-op and environmental charity Hubbub have announced a major fast-track of community fridges across the UK to help feed vulnerable groups and reduce waste.
The partnership will see 100 new community fridges added to the 150 the charity already has in place. They are anticipated to save 6.8 million meals per year from going to waste.
The charity’s network of fridges already redistributes around 3,145 tonnes of surplus food – the equivalent of almost 7.5 million meals a year.
One of the first fridges of the new partnership has been opened this week in Failsworth, Greater Manchester at the Co-op Academy. A further 15 are set to open this month, including one in Wythenshawe, South Manchester, home turf of Manchester United star Marcus Rashford, who has backed the partnership as part of his Stop Child Poverty Taskforce.
“Thanks to our members and customers, we’re delighted to be partnering with Hubbub on such an innovative scheme bringing communities together, empowering people towards community-led food solutions that will help to build community resilience,” said Co-op Group CEO Steve Murrells.
“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.”
Tessa Tricks, senior creative partner at Hubbub, said: “The partnership with Co-op has given Hubbub a unique opportunity to expand its Community Fridge Network at a greater scale and speed than would usually be possible.
“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.”
Rashford 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.”