The first Community Fridge in Wythenshawe was officially launched today by Know Africa, supported by the environmental charity Hubbub, as part of a new partnership with Co-op to fast-track the expansion of Hubbub’s Community Fridge Network across the UK.
The Wythenshawe Community Fridge, which is located at Ken Collis Court M22 9QU, is one of 100 new community fridges that will be opened over the next year, which are expected to save 6.8 million meals1 per year from going to waste. The initiative has been endorsed by local hero Marcus Rashford, calling out its ability to support local communities access food and skill.
Marcus Rashford MBE said: “The Co-op is a valuable founding member of the Child Food Poverty Taskforce and has consistently stepped up to the plate throughout the Global pandemic to support our most vulnerable families. They have demonstrated how community action can make real sustainable change and just how powerful we can be when we come together. Together with Hubbub, the Co-op has developed a programme that spans far beyond access to food and I’m so excited to see that my own community in Wythenshawe will benefit.”
Community fridges are open to everyone in communities – without any need to be referred or having to prove eligibility – to access fresh food that would otherwise have gone to waste. The food is donated by businesses – with Co-op donating surplus food from its stores.
As well as improving access to food, the fridges go beyond this by empowering communities to connect with each other, and learn new skills through activities such as cookery sessions and workshops on how to grow your own fruit and veg.
The fridge was launched today at a celebratory event attended by African dancers. The fridge will be open from 12:30 to 14:30 on Wednesdays and Saturdays to enable residents and local businesses to share surplus food and for anyone to help themselves to quality food that would otherwise be wasted.
The fridge will be run by Know Africa, a charity dedicated to supporting, empowering, and celebrating the wide cultural diaspora of African people living in Manchester and beyond. The group will welcome donations of unopened, packaged foods within their use by date and raw fruit or vegetables, which will then be available to anyone in the community to take. As well as reducing food waste, the group will use the fridge to strengthen community bonds, and a community kitchen alongside the fridge will act as a hub for food education.
The Wythenshawe fridge is one of a wave of new community fridges coming to Greater Manchester, with others opening at Co-op Academy in Failsworth and Crumpsall Community Hall.
The new fridge builds on the success of the existing 150 fridges in the Community Fridge Network, which redistribute on average of almost 6,000 meals per fridge each month. Co-op will also invest in the development of the Hubbub and the Community Fridge Network, to offer support to previously established fridges and other organisations that host community fridges.
Ruth Karamoja the CEO of Know Africa said: “The community fridge will help to cut food waste in Wythenshawe and the surrounding area, and help local people access to fresh nutritious food. Besides our community fridge we will be running a community kitchen which will bring people together and support the community to share food and vital food skills!”
Steve Murrells, Co-op Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “Thanks to our members and customers, we’re delighted to be partnering with Hubbub to expand its community fridge network into Wythenshawe. It’s an innovative scheme to bring communities together, empowering people towards community-led food solutions that will help to build community resilience.
“As a co-operative, we recognise our responsibility to make a genuine difference and have already made a number of interventions to help tackle food poverty and create fairer access to food, through our food share partnerships and our donations to FareShare.
“However, our work in our local communities has shown us that to really make a sustainable difference we need to co-operate with others to build the resilience needed for the future.”
This is not the first time Co-op has helped to improve fairer access to food for everyone. Co-op played a vital role in Marcus Rashford’s Stop Child Poverty taskforce supporting his campaign for free school meals, leading the pack by funding over £3m of free school meal vouchers for Co-op academy students. Co-op also topped up the value of the government’s Healthy Start vouchers by adding £1 to every voucher spent and is continuing to do this after the recent government uplift, giving families access to more healthy and nutritious food.
Tessa Tricks, Senior Creative Partner at Hubbub, said: “It’s so exciting the Community Fridge Network expand into Wythenshawe and we are looking forward to hearing the success stories from the Know Africa community fridge. These fridges play a vital role in communities across the UK by not only providing access to good quality food while reducing food waste but by bringing people together to share and learn skills from one another. In the past year, many of the fridges have provided a lifeline to families struggling as a result of the pandemic and we have seen the fridges turn into a place where people come together and support each other to tackle whatever challenges are thrown at them. They really are more than just a fridge.
For more information on the Community Fridge Network, including a map of fridge locations and advice for those interested in setting up a community fridge or getting involved with their local community fridge, visit: www.hubbub.org.uk/the-community-fridge