Getting to know Community Fridges

by | Jun 30, 2023 | Carer News

Helen is a local parent carer who co-founded the Old Town Community Fridge in Eastbourne with her colleague Sandra. We asked Helen to tell us more about how carers can access Community Fridges like this one.

How does the Fridge work?

Our Old Town Community Fridge takes surplus food and offers it to our community. We are based in Victoria Baptist Church, who staff the fridge as well! We collect food from local shops, such as the bakery and mini-supermarkets. We’re open once a week, every Wednesday morning (8.30-10am), and it’s a £2 donation for 10 items.

What sort of items can people find at your Fridge?

On a typical fridge day, we’ll have plenty of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables. Often it’s things like onions that are too small, wonky potatoes, or, like this week, lots of leeks as there’s a surplus of seasonal supply.

We also have tinned and packaged products. We’ve recently had boxes of Rice Krispies, after the packaging printed incorrectly! The contents are fine, but the substandard packaging means they can’t offer it to stores, so we get it.

Our fridge is funded by grants, which we use to ensure we have staples such as long life milk or hygiene products. In the holidays we offer recipe bags to help take the pressure off feeding families. Many local fridges also offer a friendly community space to visit, often having tea and coffee available to visitors and some people stay for a chat and to meet others in their local area.

Who can access a Community Fridge?

We’re open to all, as we have two goals: reducing food waste and food poverty. Some may use it because they would otherwise go hungry, and others use it to reduce food waste locally.

When we started, one of our founding principles was to ensure that there was no stigma in using the Fridge. This continues to be important to us – everyone has a right to good food, and we’ll do what we can to make that happen locally.

What made you decide to open the Old Town Fridge?

We started up a Community Fridge as we could see a need locally, with food poverty being a challenge for many. We fill the gap between the foodbank and the shops. There were two other Community Fridges open in Eastbourne when we launched, but none in our part of town. We were supported by local Councillors and the Eastbourne Food Partnership to get started.

As a carer, having access to affordable food has been important. My daughter has Down’s Syndrome, and I had to take a career break, so the fridge is important to my family as well! Having a child with complex needs has shown me the importance of local community. A lot of our members are carers, so there are people who understand the challenges and struggles we face.

If you’re a carer in East Sussex struggling with food insecurity or other aspects of the current Cost of Living crisis, please get in touch with Care for the Carers.

You can also read our Cost of Living factsheet here.

Eastbourne Old Town Community Fridge is open Wednesday mornings 8.30-10am. £2 donation for 10 items. Victoria Baptist Community Church, Eldon Road. You can find them on Facebook as ‘Old Town Community Fridge’.

Main image by Nico Smit on Unsplash

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