By early March, it was clear that we would need to remain alert to the dangers posed by the emerging pandemic. After reviewing the risks posed by Coronavirus and following advice from the Community Fridge umbrella body, Hubbub, it became clear that we could not continue to offer our service on the same basis as we had been. Though it saddened us to do so, we made the difficult decision to suspend operations, until we could ensure the safety of both visitors and staff.
During this hiatus, it became clear that, in spite of reports of food shortages, there was still a lot of surplus food going to landfill. Staff worked diligently behind the scenes to find ways in which we could use this as an opportunity to address the increasing amounts of food poverty and food insecurity being seen as a result of the social and economic impact of the pandemic.
In late April, we opened an adjusted service, distributing prepacked parcels through a window on the ground floor of our building, with customers being asked to queue and maintain social distancing while they wait.
In spite of the disruption and changes to the service, the project’s popularity has continued to grow and, since reopening, we've helped feed nearly 1000 people with food parcels, redistributing 1 ton of food surplus, which is equivalent to 2500 meals. We’ve had a lot familiar clients using the service but have also seen a lot of new faces, who had either not heard of us previously or who have had changes in their personal circumstances as a result of the pandemic
In order to extend our reach, we’ve also been working in partnership with local community groups, who have been distributing food parcels to those who have been acutely affected by the pandemic but are unable to the Community fridge themselves.
We’ve also continued develop the service, through the purchase and use of the Community Fridge van and bringing in new equipment to help increase capacity.
It’s difficult to know what the Community fridge will look like in the future but we will continue to persevere and adapt to our circumstances in order to deliver a service which benefits the local community, both through the provision of free, fresh food and reducing food waste.