07/11/18: Breckland seeks volunteers to help tackle food wastage

Paul claussen fridgeDid you know 15 million tonnes of food and drink is thrown away every year? That's the same weight as 2 million double decker buses. The average UK family wastes £470 a year by throwing away food and drink which could have been eaten, and £3 billion is wasted by companies in the food industry.

To help tackle unnecessary food waste, Breckland Council has developed a network of Community Fridges in Watton, Swaffham, Dereham and Thetford, helping connect communities with access to nutritious donated food, whilst saving money and reducing waste going to landfill. The community fridges, which are operated by volunteers, include tasty fresh fruit and vegetables, yoghurts, cheese, eggs and bread which are donated by local shops and supermarkets. The volunteers help collect donated goods from the local suppliers, weigh items and assist residents making collections. The approach means less food is wasted and local residents are able to pop in to their community fridge to pick up a few items that they need. The scheme has proven a big success, so much so that more volunteers and suppliers are required.

Cllr Paul Claussen, Breckland Council Executive Member for Place, explained: "Food waste is a huge problem nationally and we all need to do our bit to tackle the issue. This initiative makes it very simple and straightforward for local businesses to get food nearing its use-by date to those who could use it. So far the project has worked well, however we are always in need of new volunteers so we can collect up more food and help it reach even more people. If you can spare a few hours per week to help cut food waste in our society then get in contact and volunteer for the Community Fridge scheme. We are also looking for additional suppliers and allotment holders to help provide additional fresh food items that are nearing sell by dates, but could still be used for the wider community."

Cllr Claussen also urged residents to make good use of the fridges: "Whether you've forgotten to bring your lunch into work, or just want to drop by and see if there's anything you could use for your evening meal, the community fridges are for everyone and everything is free. What's important is that food is put to good use and is not wasted and sent to landfill, so I hope people will stop by their local community fridge next time they are passing."

An officer from the Council's Food Safety team is providing training to the volunteers to ensure their food safety knowledge is up to date. To volunteer for the Community Fridge Scheme or for your business to get involved contact Natalia Kalamboukis on 01362 656316 or email Natalia.Kalamboukis@breckland.gov.uk for further information. If you are a resident looking use the Community fridges visit  www.breckland.gov.uk/CommunityFridges to find out about their opening times and locations across Breckland.