How did it start?
Sarah Renfrey set up Fare Divide in 2018 with a vision to save perishable foodstuff from landfill by setting up community fridges in West Sussex to encourage healthier communities by forging partnerships with local food suppliers and make surplus food available to all without judgement or stigma.
What is Fare Divide?
Fare Divide is a non-profit company (number 11452577) created to help communities in West Sussex to start and manage Community fridges in their area. Fare Divide relies on donations from users of the Fridge, members of the public, local groups and from community grants where available. It is loooking to become a Community Interest Company in 2020. It is currently looking for members of the board to help manage and direct the group.
What is a Community Fridge?
The aim of a Community Fridge is to make fresh food that would otherwise be wasted freely available to everyone in the community. Surplus perishable food is donated by local businesses, supermarkets or allotments and taken by anyone who will use it. They are a social site to promote food education and sharing. They are housed in publicly accessible places.
Who can use the Community Fridge?
Anyone. You do not have to be in receipt of benefits or be referred and no personal details are taken. Anyone can just turn up when the Fridge is open, take what they want (up to 5 items per adult) and a voluntary donation to keep the Fridge going is also greatly appreciated.
What is the difference between a community fridge and a food bank?
People usually refer to food banks as an emergency stop gap solution. For some there is a stigma tied to using food banks and there is usually cap on the number of visits that can be made by a household within a time period. Generally non-perishable food items are given out, and at set times only, food bank users are not always at liberty to choose what they eat. In contrast, Community Fridges exist to reduce food waste and foster a spirit of sharing and mutual support within a community. They are often open more regularly and offer a source of fresh good quality food surplus for everyone. In many cases the most frequent items moving through the fridge are fruit and veg. They operate on a trust basis and are not means tested.
Littlehampton Community Fridge
The Littlehampton Fridge was opened on a trial basis in Littlehampton Library on 8 July 2019 and it officially opened on 22 October 2019. There are more than 30 volunteers helping to run the Fridge with roles such as Fridge Monitors and Surplus Food Collectors. Volunteers are also provided with training in Health & Safety, Food Hygiene and Manual Handling.
How much food has been saved?
Over 47.5 tonnes have been saved in 14 months in just one town. This is equivalent to over 113,400 meals, and over 200 tonnes of Carbon dioxide not released in the atmosphere by saving it from landfill!
Health and Safety
A set of guidelines are in place for running a safe and professional Community Fridge and we are part of the Community Fridge Network (CFN) started by the environmental charity HUBBUB, which is very close to opening it’s 100th fridge in the network in the UK. They have developed guidelines with consultation from the Food Standards Agency, Environmental Health Officers and Sainsbury’s Food Safety Team. The Community Fridge will have a food hygiene rating (the Littlehampton Fridge has a 5* Hygiene rating) and is registered as a food business and will have had an inspection from an Environmental Health Officer. We do not accept foods past their ‘use by’ dates (unless frozen in time), as this is no longer food safe. We do have certain foods past their ‘best before’ dates, if the food is still in good condition.
Where does the food come from?
In West Sussex, food donors are Fareshare Sussex and UK Harvest who rescue food and distribute to community groups. Local businesses such as Bakeries, supermarkets and retailers such as Morrisons, Tesco, Co-op, Lidl, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose all have schemes for donating excess food to a Community Fridge.
We cannot accept cooked food from individual homes or unregistered sources. It would be very challenging to identify the correct allergy risks and ingredients so may be unsafe to share with the community. We do, however, accept surplus cleaned fruit and vegetables from allotments, and any unopened non-perishable items that you cannot use.
The Horsham Community Fridge was able to purchase a fridge from donations raised in December 2019. Horsham Community Fridge was due to open in April 2020 in Horsham Library, but unfortunately it didn’t happen because of COVID-19 and the Lockdown and it does not look like we will ever open in the Library.
- Continue to work with Horsham Churches Together to find a safe, secure and appropriate premises, ideally accessible in the evenings for evening food collections and drop offs.
- To launch the Horsham Community Fridge Project! The aim would be to have a ‘soft launch’ first before an official launch.
- Days and opening times will depend on the premises and volunteers and the amount of food donated.
Links and Contacts
Sarah Renfrey, 07508 752543, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Anita Rosser, 07968 764265; email email@example.com
Feeling inspired to get involved?
We are always looking for volunteers, so get in touch or come and meet us and see how you can get involved! Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or sign up to receive our latest news (it only takes two seconds to add your email address – simply click on black ‘Follow‘ tab on bottom right of this screen!). Feel free to also send us an email using our contact form, or come and say hello at our events like the Horsham Climate Cafe or the Horsham Repair Cafe!