Community fridge dishes out a tonne of food

Collecting food with Lana de Meillon and Colette Porter. Pic: Lana de Meillon Mallard

Since launching six weeks ago, Catford Fridge Station has redistributed 1250kg of food to vulnerable people in the community.

The Lewisham council funded scheme is designed to discourage food waste by providing an outlet for people to donate their unwanted or unused cooking ingredients.

Catford Fridge Station (CFS) founder, Lana de Meillon, spoke to Eastlondonlines, saying: “It’s a perfect marriage of two causes; food waste and food insecurity.”

There are over 50 community fridges in the UK, 10 of which are in London. The cause is two-fold, and CFS’s method is catching on. The objective is to make people more aware of their food waste and to redistribute food to those that need it most.

De Meillon added: “In the mornings, we knock on doors, and we get people to donate food that is likely to go to waste. It makes it simple for people because you’re unlikely to drive 20 mins to donate that banana you’re not going to get round to eating.”

CFS has set an exciting precedent, and their model for redistributing food waste has enormous potential. One volunteer quipped: “If only community fridges were as common as Pret A Manger’s in London.”

Every day the UK throws away 20 million slices of bread and 2.2 million slices of ham. The average family wastes £700 a year on food, and yet, 1.5 million people in London struggle to get enough to eat.

De Meillon added: “The Government spent 50 million pounds in London getting rid of food waste. That’s an extraordinary amount of money to spend on food waste disposal, and could be better used to implement and improve current food systems across the capital.”

CFS has been working with Lewisham Food Cycle, and together every Saturday they join forces at the Lewisham Irish Community Centre. Lewisham Food Cycle cook for people inside the centre and CFS prepare food parcels to hand out to people when they leave.

Eastlondonlines spoke to Simone Riddle of Lewisham Food Cycle. She said: “We invite everyone; it’s a community meal. It is about building communities, so anyone who wants to come along can.”

The atmosphere inside the centre was like joining a raucous food hall, everyone had a smile on their face and a story to share. Riddle added, “We tend to support vulnerable adults, in a survey, over half of our guests said that they live alone and 65% said they often feel lonely.”

Councillor James. J Walsh for Catford and Rushey Green followed up the 1250kg landmark with a tweet:

Lewisham Council funded the CFS project with the help of Walsh, and, according to the Labour councillor, there’s more money to go around, saying: “We have more than £2.3M up for grabs in Lewisham with £200,000 of funding in Catford through our innovative NCIL programme.”

Out of 33 London boroughs, Lewisham is currently ranked sixth for combating food insecurity.

To find out more about Catford Fridge Station, find them on Facebook or click here.

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