Everything you need to know about Auckland’s Community Fridge
Auckland’s Community Fridge was an initiative to help share excess food with people who need it. The fridge ran from 30 November 2016 to 09 October 2019 in the inner city in Griffiths Gardens, which was on the corner of Wellesley St West and Mayoral Drive. The fridge was open 24 hours a day, and businesses and individuals were encouraged to leave excess food in the fridge and anyone who needed it could take it for free. Griffiths Gardens was dismantled as part of the City Rail Link Project. A new location is now being sought for the fridge.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a community fridge?
A community fridge is a place where people and businesses can donate their surplus food and other people can help themselves to the food in the fridge.
Where was the Auckland community fridge?
The fridge was located in an inner city community garden called Griffiths Gardens, which was located on the corner of Wellesley St West & Mayoral Drive in Auckland.
Why does Auckland need a community fridge?
- New Zealand families throw away $1.17 billion worth of food every year and cafes, restaurants and supermarkets also throw away millions of dollars of food every year.
- A community fridge enables people with excess food to easily share it with people who need the food.
- Many people would like to be able to donate their food, but it can be inconvenient to take it to a food bank. The community fridge was always open which allowed people to drop off food at any hour, and meant people could access the food whenever they needed it.
- The geographical size of Auckland can make it difficult for people to share food with those who may need it. The fridge was located in a densely populated, central location in the CBD.
What food was accepted for donation?
Donations were accepted of:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables – they had to be mould free.
- Tinned and dried goods – all items had to be unopened.
- Sandwiches, biscuits and baked goods – this food was only accepted if was less than two days old and was labeled with the date and time it was made. Labels were provided at the fridge.
- Cooked food from registered kitchens who had a current food safety certificate. Cooked food was only accepted if was less than two days old and was labeled with the date and time it was made. Labels were provided at the fridge.
Food that couldn’t be put in the fridge:
- Unsealed or half eaten food.
- Mouldy fruit, vegetables or bread.
- Raw fish, meat, eggs and milk.
- Food that has been recalled by the manufacturer.
- Cooked food eg quiches, curries unless they are donated by a registered kitchen and correctly labeled.
What about the health and safety aspects of the fridge?
A trained food health and safety professional created the donation guidelines and training materials for the volunteers who looked after the fridge. The health and safety information provided was based on information and expertise from an established council run fridge in the United Kingdom. Their guidance documents can be viewed here.
The fridge had instructions explaining what could be donated and what couldn’t be donated and volunteers were rostered on to clean the fridge, check the temperature and remove any unsuitable donations. A set of health and safety guidance documents was created for the fridge. To receive a copy email firstname.lastname@example.org
What happened to the food which was unsuitable for donation?
We Compost donated a food scraps bin which was placed next to the fridge and any unsuitable food was disposed of and taken away for composting.
Who was behind this project?
This project was initially the brainchild of zero waste blogger Amanda Chapman and a group of community waste champions. Intended originally as a 3 week pop up, the fridge was so successful that a group of volunteers banded together to keep the fridge open. The project was financially supported by the Auckland Council Love Food Hate Waste Fund; Envision New Zealand; and Love Food Hate Waste New Zealand.
Is this a world first?
No, the community fridge movement began in Spain in 2015. It now has 9 fridges in towns around Spain. Other fridges have been established in England, Belgium, Argentina and United Arab Emirates. Since the success of the Auckland fridge, a community fridge and pantry has also been set up in New Brighton, Christchurch. It has also inspired people to set up Community Fruit and Vege Stands and Pataka Kai Stands around the country to share surplus food with their neighbours.
Weren’t there already food rescue groups in Auckland?
Auckland has two food rescue groups FairFood which operates in West Auckland and Kiwi Harvest which operates in Central Auckland and the North Shore. These food rescue groups take surplus food from supermarkets and bakeries where the donations are sizable in volume. The community fridge is appropriate for people who want to make smaller donations of food such as a loaf of bread, a bag of lemons from the garden, unsold sandwiches etc.
Was the fridge a success?
Yes. During the almost 3 years which the fridge operated, over 12 tonnes of unwanted food were donated to the fridge. Surplus food from local supermarkets was collected daily by volunteers and dropped in the fridge as well as individual donations from the public.