Here's an unlikely way to spread community warmth... with a fridge.
Is there a community fridge near you? They've been popping up across the UK in recent years, with 32 in London.
The idea is a simple one. Put a big fridge in a shared space and use it to save food that would otherwise get binned. But it's so much more than that. The fridge acts as a hub, bringing people together not only to eat, but to meet, chat and even learn new skills.
The food comes from various sources: surplus stock from supermarkets, cafes or food producers, but also items from local households and gardens. Anyone can pop in and help themselves, or donate unwanted food.
In case you're wondering "Um, is anyone checking these things for mould or spoilage?", then, yes! Each community fridge is carefully managed by whoever's running it — usually volunteers within schools, community centres, food banks or shops.
The scheme is organised by environmental charity Hubbub, who've helped set up more than 450 community fridges across the country. Here's a map to help you discover the nearest one to your home.
The fridge door opens wider with new funding
Now, the scheme is expanding. Thanks to a £350,000 grant from Starbucks (raised through 5p cup charges) and further help from long-term partners Co-Op, 50 existing community fridges will receive money to go beyond food distribution. These super-hubs will now be able to put on workshops, teach new food skills, encourage growing initiatives and organise cooking sessions. All of this will help communities gain fairer access to food at a time when the costs of many basic foods are skyrocketing.
The scheme has been trialled already, thanks to an earlier grant from the Rothschild Foundation. According to Hubbub, "Participants reported adopting a more varied diet, discovering new recipes and feeling more connected to their local community."
All images courtesy Hubbub.