Making good food accessible to all
Surplus food waste is a significant environmental and social issue. With food prices rising and the cost of living crisis continuing to escalate, taking action to address the broken food system, both locally and globally, has never been more important.
The problem? Edible food that is fit for human consumption is not reaching our tables. Instead, it is being left to spoil or thrown away by retailers and consumers. In the UK, over 10 million tonnes of good food is thrown away every year. At the same time, millions of people are struggling to afford to eat.
We are working with local people and partners to reduce the amount of good food going to waste in Merton and redistribute this food to the community. We aim to influence change to tackle food insecurity and want to see increased nutritional health and wellbeing for the most food-insecure residents through greater choices and improved access to fresh, nutritious, good quality food.
Sustainable Merton has teamed up with Commonside Community Development Trust, Polish Family Association and Merton Community Transport to form Merton’s Community Fridge Network. Together, we have created a network of community fridges where fresh surplus food is donated and redistributed to the community, helping people and the planet.
Our community fridges are inclusive, social food hubs providing workshops, food demonstrations and information on nutritious food for all cultures so that everyone can access good food, save money and reduce waste. Merton's Community Fridge Network complements the work of existing food banks in the borough, benefiting those most in need whilst extending the offering to the wider community.
This partnership builds on the fantastic work which has already been done to address the Covid-19 food crisis. From April to August 2020, surplus food was supplied free of charge by the London Food Alliance and Fareshare and delivered to a central food distribution hub established by Merton Council and Merton College. Since then, the distribution of surplus food coming into the borough from Fareshare is now managed by Merton Community Transport.
Find your nearest Community Fridge
Merton's Food Response Network
This year Sustainable Merton is also coordinating Merton’s Food Poverty Response Network on behalf of Merton Council, working with 15 other local charitable organisations and faith groups. The network’s aim is to take a collaborative approach to address food insecurity in the borough, bringing together the combined skills and resources of lunch clubs, foodbanks, community fridges and transport services, identifying geographical areas of need and proactively finding solutions.
Merton's Community Fridge Satellite Locations
Clarion's Community Fridge, a pilot project born from Merton's Food Response Network, is a collaboration between Sustainable Merton’s Community Fridge and Clarion Housing.
An over 55s Clarion Housing scheme in the borough was identified as having residents in need and who are socially isolated. This is now the home of Clarion Housing's first satellite community fridge, empowering residents to the Fridge whilst providing the support, training and provisions required.
Upon success the plan is to roll the model out into other areas within the borough, building communities through interaction, saving food waste and fighting food insecurity in one.
Food waste is a huge problem for our environment.
Producing, processing and transporting food which is ultimately being wasted requires huge amounts of fresh water, land and other resources.
When avoidable, or unavoidable, food waste goes to landfill, it decomposes, creating methane - a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming.
If the 7.3 million tonnes of food thrown away from homes in the UK each year were prevented, the environmental benefit would equate to taking
1 in 4 cars off the road.