Diana Sterck, CEO of Sustainable Merton, presents her view on the borough’s response to food during lockdown and looks forward to building on this over the next 12 months.
When lockdown was announced in March, I knew that Sustainable Merton had to escalate its plans around food. Having coordinated the borough’s Food Poverty Action Plan for two years, we had no doubt that many more people than usual would be in crisis in being able to access and afford food and urgent action needed to be taken.
Sustainable Merton had exciting plans to open Merton’s Community Fridge - the first community fridge in the borough - in April and, with the support of Morden Baptist Church where our Fridge is located, we were still able to offer this as a food resource facility for those in need from early May.
Many of our Community Champion Fridge Friends have put in numerous hours delivering food, receiving food deliveries, and distributing food to the community. Thanks to their hard work we have had a massive impact. Since opening in May, Merton’s Community Fridge has served over 80 families, stopped 5565kg of food from going to waste (equivalent to 17,807Kg of CO2), and made 45 deliveries of food through Fareshare Go.
During the early weeks of lockdown, many of the organisations who work with people living in food poverty came together to share information and plans. With support from Merton Council and Merton College, and with food supplied free of charge by the London Food Alliance and Fareshare, we worked together to create Merton's Community Fridge Network: a network of food redistribution hubs in the borough to support those in need. The food supplied by the London Food Alliance was stored in Merton College’s fabulous food kitchens, which were closed to students during lockdown, and distributed by Merton Council officers and their bailiff team. These are both great examples of community action resulting from staff not being able to fulfil their nor