Launch of Blandford Community Fridge
Published: 21 May 2021
Launch of Blandford Community Fridge
On Wednesday 19th May 2021 Blandford’s first ever ‘Community Fridge’ opened, with the support of environmental charity Hubbub UK, in a growing effort to tackle food waste.
Work started on the project in September 2020 and online meetings have been held since then with volunteers, councillors and representatives from Blandford Forum Town Council, the Blandford Group Practice, Blandford Youth & Community Centre and Public Health Dorset. It has been a great example of partnership working with each organisation and individual bringing different skills and enthusiasm for the project.
Funding has been forthcoming from the Dorset Council and Blandford Forum Town Council, with a commitment to funding made by the Georgian Fayre, the Carnival Committee and Sandisons Ltd (Accountancy firm).
The fridge, located at Blandford Youth & Community Centre (next to the Leisure Centre), will be open on Wednesday mornings between 9am and 11am, at first, for anyone to help themselves to quality food from Tesco that would otherwise be wasted. Everyone is welcome – the aim is to reduce food waste and empower communities.
Sara Stringer, Social Prescribing, Wellbeing & Health Champions Lead at The Blandford Group Practice has been instrumental in driving this project and recruiting volunteers.
The Town Council has arranged for the volunteers to receive the Level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene for Catering certificate and a DBS check. Each week, two volunteers collect the food from Tesco on a Tuesday evening, via the FareShare scheme. They take the food back and weigh/log it before putting it into the fridge. The following morning two different volunteers open up to greet the public and encourage them to take the food.
Fiona Johnson at Public Health Dorset has attended some of the online meetings and advised the group of free Level 2 training available via Volunteer Centre Dorset, which new volunteers have since been able to benefit from.
Volunteer and Town Councillor, Pat Osborne – who carried out the first collection with fellow volunteer, Steph Bassford – has completed the training and has also attended a Dorset Community Action session on safeguarding. All of the sessions have been held online during the pandemic as well as the meetings, which has enabled us to progress the project through to completion without delay.
Based on the templates and guidance provided by Hubbub, Linda Scott-Giles, Town Clerk has produced the necessary documentation for the fridge including risk, COSHH, H&S and HACCP assessments, insurance cover, publicity, a Facebook page and email address as well as registering the fridge with Environmental Health. These processes can be off putting for volunteers and support was also sought from Julie Wigg at Dorset Community Action to help with the Safeguarding Policy and provide guidance on forming the committee due to her experience in this area.
The fridge’s location, suggested by Youth Leader Jo Hutson, means that the Youth & Community Centre will have access to the food in the fridge that isn’t collected on a Wednesday morning. They have excellent kitchen facilities on site and can use the food to teach and encourage young people to cook and experiment with different foods.
The Mayor of Blandford Forum, Cllr Lee Hitchings was at the opening to meet volunteers and help residents weigh their selected produce out. Records are kept, which are then shared with Hubbub so they can report how much food is saved from being wasted. Food waste is a big issue in the UK. The average household throws away £700 worth of food every year and at the same time 4 million people in the UK are living in food poverty. Most food waste in the UK is avoidable and could have been eaten had it been better managed.
Blandford’s fridge is one of a growing number opening up across the UK. The concept first arrived in the UK in 2016 with Community Fridges opening up in Swadlincote, Frome and London. Now over 50 projects are running across the country.
More information on The Community Fridge Network, including a map of fridge locations and advice for those interested in setting up a community fridge can be found at www.hubbub.org.uk/communityfridgenetwork.