Blog by Jackie Ford,
Community Fridge Coordinator
At Merton’s Community Fridge we are always working hard to reduce food waste in the borough and the work we do would be impossible without the support of keen local businesses.
Each week we receive a flurry of delicious food donations arriving from around the local area. Recently, staff at our nearby Coop stores, Wimbledon Chase and Wimbledon Park, have organised leftover croissants and pastries for our collections. We began a new pick up from Greggs in Morden who save their unsold doughnuts, cakes and sandwiches for the Community Fridge. We have also been collecting from Waitrose in Raynes Park, where the friendly staff regularly keep us topped up with surplus fresh fruit and vegetables.
All these donations make a mini mountain of perfectly fine food, which we distribute from Morden Baptist Church every Wednesday and Thursday. Over the time that the Community Fridge has been active, since May 2020, we have redistributed over 20,000 kg of surplus food. All that good food would have gone to waste without our efforts!
We are looking for more regular donors to support the Fridge so please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
⭐ Of course, it’s the team of brilliant volunteers, the Fridge Friends, who keep things going. They help build relationships with these local businesses as well as collect and distribute the surplus food to visitors every week.
Here are some of their stories...
"I re-started volunteering with local groups in Merton after settling into life as a 1st-time parent. I have enjoyed volunteering all my life as serving others in the community has brought a sense of purpose to my life. However, I have appreciated the value of it all even more seeing the financial devastation which the pandemic has had on several families. Knowing that my weekly contribution helps people out there gives me a profound sense of satisfaction and helps with my own well-being. My son has helped me with a few activities and I hope to get my son soon into it as well!"
“After retiring I found that I really missed working as part of a team with other people. I had a few hours to spare and decided to look for some voluntary work where I could feel that I was doing something useful but that also had a social aspect. When the opportunity to apply for a role at the Community Fridge emerged I was excited at the thought of joining a team dedicated to reducing food waste and helping people who would benefit from a little extra free food. When I joined, the pandemic had just started and so the distribution of free food really helped. Not only are the resources used in producing such food not wasted, but the food goes to people who really value it.
While I enjoy working with a team on the front line actually distributing the food, I am very aware of the brilliant job done by other members of the team who collect food from different stores, deliver it to the Fridge and pack it away ready for us to give out each week. Although they are less visible to our visitors, their role is vital and we could not play our part without them. It is that real team effort that ensures that we have something to distribute each week. Also, members will often step in to cover a duty if the regular volunteer cannot do it and this really helps. If you have a few hours to spare (and not necessarily every week) I wholeheartedly recommend that you consider joining the team either on the collection/delivery side or the distribution side. I am sure that you will enjoy knowing that you are doing your bit for sustainability and for your community. Also, it’s really interesting chatting to other team members and getting to know some of our regular visitors a little.”
"I’ve been volunteering with Merton’s Community Fridge as a collection driver and really enjoy it. I collect perfectly safe and edible food that is about to expire and/or past the best before date from various grocery stores in Wimbledon to the Community Fridge. While I don’t get to interact with the people getting the food, I love seeing that the food is being saved from being wasted/in the bin and being taken by those who need it. I know my contribution is probably small compared to others but I do feel good about being part of the team to help people experiencing food poverty whilst avoiding some food waste in Merton."
Merton's Community Fridge wouldn't be what it is without the amazing contribution of our Fridge Friends. We thank them all for the time they give to improve sustainability in Merton and help the local community.
If you are interested in volunteering with Merton's Community Fridge or picking up food donations from businesses (using your personal vehicle) please sign up today!