Guildford’s First Community Fridge

February 25, 2020 2:38 PM
By Julia McShane

Written by Cllr Julia McShane. Lib Dem Councillor for Westborough and Lead Councillor for Community Health, Wellbeing and Support on Guildford Borough Council

How many times have you bought something from the supermarket as part of a special offer only to throw it away a few days later because it went out of date before you could use it? I know I have, and I think we are all becoming more aware of the price of that waste both in terms of the financial cost and the cost to our environment.

Cllr Julia McShane at opening of Guildford's new community fridge

Cllr Julia McShane at the launch of Guildford's community fridge

At a time when young people are rightly leading the way in demanding we take action to address the climate emergency and while families, many of whom are in work are experiencing food poverty there is an urgent need to cut waste and share what we have with others.

We are all aware of the valuable work of foodbanks in supporting those experiencing food poverty but often they are not able to store and provide fresh produce. Following two years of research by a working group of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee, led by Lib Dem Cllr Angela Goodwin, at Guildford Borough Council their findings were published in a Food Poverty Report last year. One of the recommendations in the report acknowledged that there were barriers to accessing affordable and nutritious food and that a solution needed to be found.

So, what did we do about it?

As the Lib Dem lead councillor for Community Health, Wellbeing and Support at Guildford Borough Council I'm pleased to support the fantastic work of the council's Community Wellbeing Team. They work across the borough with residents to build confidence and empower people to enhance their wellbeing. They have a positive approach to working to bring people together to make a real difference in their communities. It was through their work that we were able to begin to improve the accessibility of fresh and nutritious food by working with local businesses and young people to offer a solution.

On 18th February we were thrilled to launch Guildford's first Community Fridge at the Park Barn Centre or The Hive as it will officially become at its relaunch later in the Spring.

When the Mayor of Guildford arrived to cut the ribbon the newly refurbished centre and coffee shop was busy with local people and parents and toddlers were enjoying the soft playroom. The Mayor commented on the great atmosphere and it was a real celebration for everyone and an opportunity to be part of welcoming this great new initiative.

Supported by Coop Food Share, M&S Guildford and Cheesemans there were fresh vegetables and fruit available in the Community Fridge but the offer varies from day to day depending on the donations that come in. The Community Wellbeing Team are managing the fridge together with young people from nearby King's College who are volunteering their time because they want to be actively involved in their community.

We are already looking to locate another Community Fridge in the town centre and are working with community organisations and residents to make it happen. A Community Fridge is such a worthwhile way of bringing people together as everyone can contribute to its success either by supporting access to fresh food by donating something or helping cut food waste by taking something out!

You can watch That's TV South East's coverage on the launch here: https://youtu.be/AMPBP5gN318