What’s happened to the Community Fridge?
The Community Fridge was a social experiment to see whether people would donate their excess food if there was a place to do so, and whether people in need would take free food from a public fridge.
Update: The Community Fridge has reopened! Find out more here.
So what did we find?
The fridge launched to much acclaim, with thousands of people sharing their support for the idea via social media.
Many different people donated food to the fridge – from individuals leaving produce from their gardens or bottles of milk, to businesses like Cookie Time donating food which had passed its best before date, to cafés and bakeries like Scarecrow, Hollywood Bakery and Massimo Albany donating salads and baked goods.
Almost as quickly as the food went into the fridge, it went out again. Over 1,000 food items passed through the fridge in the first week alone. All sorts of people needed and wanted the food – rough sleepers, students, backpackers and even the occasional office worker. We didn’t mind who took the food – as the food was now feeding people, not rubbish bins.
“The amount of support the fridge received was overwhelming,” said Amanda Chapman who was the main driver behind the Community Fridge.
“It revealed how Kiwis needed something everyone could get behind to help out others in need. The fridge also engaged individuals and businesses to be aware of how much surplus food they had.
“Food turnover in the Community Fridge was high, food spent no more than a few hours in the fridge and some items were taken within minutes of being donated.”
Due to the huge demand for the food, it was challenging to ensure that there was always something in the fridge. There were many cafes and bakeries around Auckland who were keen to donate to the fridge, but they were often located far from the CBD.
For example, Pukeko Bakery in Browns Bay was an avid supporter of the fridge from day one. However, there was a long chain of people (mainly Love Food Hate Waste and Auckland Council staff) who were involved in the transportation of the food from Browns Bay to the fridge. While this worked in the short term, it is not something that is sustainable in the long term.
— Love Food Hate Waste (@LFHW_NZ) December 14, 2016
The fridge will be closed over the Christmas period from 7pm Friday 23 December as many of the businesses who donate are closed over the Christmas break.
“From a practicality perspective we have to shut down over the Christmas period and give our team of volunteers a break but I hope that with enough community support it will be back up and running in the New Year,” said Chapman.
In order for it to continue in the long term there needs to be a strong army of volunteers who can monitor and clean the fridge, as well as deliver food from local businesses to the fridge.
“While we need additional help maintaining the central Auckland fridge, we are thrilled that this fridge has inspired many other groups from around Auckland and New Zealand to consider setting up their own,” said Chapman.
Another Community Fridge has been set up by Love Soup in Whangaparaoa.
How you can help
In order for the Community Fridge to continue in 2017 it needs a strong army of volunteers who can monitor and clean the fridge, as well as deliver food from local businesses to the fridge. If you are keen to be involved, please email [email protected]
Love Food Hate Waste are happy to share all of the information that you need to set up a free food fridge, as we would love to see as many of these as possible around the country. If you are interested in setting up a Community Fridge in your area, please email [email protected]
We want to thank Amanda Chapman, Auckland Council and every person who donated or took food and everyone who shared the story on social media.
Food waste is a major issue in New Zealand with over $872 million of edible food going to waste each year. At the same time, thousands of Kiwis are struggling to get enough food to eat. This fridge has helped bridge the gap by reducing food waste and distributing excess food to people in need.
— Amanda Chapman (@AmandaWasteFree) December 18, 2016