Hubbub announced on 4 September that it has secured £3 million in funding from Co-op to bolster its Community Fridge Network, an initiative designed to curtail food waste by facilitating the sharing of surplus food within local communities. In 2022, the network boasted over 450 community fridges throughout the UK and this number continues to grow, with plans for the collaboration with Co-op to persist for the next three years. Community fridges act as social hubs where surplus food – sourced from supermarkets, local businesses, producers, and even households – can be shared. Notably, Elmbridge Eco Hub has shared 5.6 tonnes of food with 2,600 residents over a seven-month period, revitalising a former bowling green into a community garden with assistance from 300 local volunteers.
The fresh investment is earmarked to augment the existing network’s influence, aiding fridges in becoming indispensable components of their local communities. Additionally, Hubbub intends to nurture groups in disseminating knowledge and inspiration throughout the network and has allocated funds to inaugurate 75 new fridge locations across the UK. This news coincides with Hubbub’s latest annual impact report on the Community Fridge Network, which illuminates both the growth and escalating demand for the initiative. In 2022 alone, the network facilitated the sharing of over 7,000 tonnes of surplus food, equating to almost 17 million meals – a significant surge from the three million meals shared in 2019.
Ellen Rutherford, Hubbub’s Head of Food, praised the rapid expansion of the Community Fridge Network and attributed its success to the consistent support from Co-op. With the network evolving from 270 to 450 fridges last year, and with monthly food sharing per fridge averaging 1.5 tonnes, Rutherford emphasises the importance of community fridges as spaces of connection beyond just food sharing. Rebecca Birkbeck from Co-op reiterates this sentiment, highlighting Co-op’s commitment to truly benefiting local communities, and underscores the vital role of Co-op members in propelling this partnership forward.