Heard the one about the community fridge? No? Neither had I until I went to see it with my own eyes – and what a revelation it is! Dundee West End Community Fridge is, as it says on the tin, ‘a simple way of sharing good food that would otherwise go to waste.’ Around the UK and Scotland this project, long others in a Hubbub Community Fridge network, is giving communities access to nutritious food and is helping us to transition to a more sustainable way of life. And, if you find it hard to take in, next time you’re in Dundee, pop along the Perth Road, just before the Tartan Café, you will find a trendy, wee structure, open to the public. Inside this architect designed space (Jon Frullani) is a couple of fridges, a freezer and some shelves. The fridges are donated by a German company: they are perfectly useable but are slightly scratched.
So, how does it all work you might well be asking? Well, that was the first question I put to the energetic and passionate project co-ordinator, Lynsey Penny from The Gate Church International Carbon Saving Project. She told me that a dedicated group of volunteers go around the local supermarkets to collect, sort and place these perishables in the fridges. Donations also come from allotment holders, community gardens and private individuals. Of course, there are strict Health and Safely checks on the kind of food that can be put in the fridge and the project is continually scrutinised. There are very clear visual posters in the space about what can and cannot be accepted.
Anyone in the community can come and take the food for free. I spoke to a final year student who was extremely enthusiastic about the project and said it helped him eke out his budget. I saw a mum with her 2 children stop by, an elderly man, 2 young women, a middle age couple; in short, a wide variety of folk from the area visited in the short time I was there. Since it opened, over 6 weeks ago, Penny has calculated that 3.4 tonnes of food, that would otherwise go into landfill, was used up.
The project has generated some spin offs. I noticed a poster in the space for a monthly clothes swap and repair café and the indefatigable Lynsey has more plans in the pipe line. She admitted the community fridge project had some bumps along the way but that it had all been worth it, and that her biggest problem now was keeping up with the volume of food donated, and, as if on cue, her phone rang with news that there was a consignment of strawberries going free.
And finally, if you’re still not convinced, a shocking fact you should know: 1/3 of all food produced globally is NEVER EATEN. Not good, I think you’d agree, which makes this project and other community fridges like it, so worthwhile. It would be great to think that Tayport might, one day, have its own fridge to add to our Carbon Conversations. I’ll be keeping tabs on the project, so look out for future updates.