Blog by Georgina Hill, University of Edinburgh student

Neighbourhoods do not always have easy access to fresh produce.

For some, accessing fresh, nutritious food can be a challenge. Fruit and veg can be hard to transport and relatively expensive. At the same time, tonnes of fresh produce go to waste every year.

A possible solution: ‘Community Fridges’. People donate fresh food that they would otherwise throw away, and others are free to take what they need. The concept has had success in Germany and Spain. Exciting pilot projects are happening right now in the UK.

So, could we see community fridges in Scotland?

It is promising. With the Good Food Nation and Zero Waste Scotland policies, food security and sustainability appear high on the political agenda. Big businesses are working to deal with their consumable food waste in sustainable ways. For example, Pret is teamed up with Cyrenians, an Edinburgh charity, to redistribute their left-over sandwiches to those in need.

But will a community fridge work in your local area?

The charity, Hubbub is supporting a community fridge project in Swadlincote, England, and they have some advice:

Location is key. The fridge must be in a secure place, in an area of high footfall, making it convenient to use.

Community collaboration is a necessity. People need to know there is a community fridge and how to use it. Food needs to be donated by many different community groups, including local businesses, edible gardens, food banks and the public. The fridge will need to be monitored and managed by staff and volunteers, which requires organisation and commitment.

Finally, food safety is important. Strict guidelines need to be agreed upon to ensure safe operation. There would have to be continually updated, accurate records of food going in and out of the fridge.

The Botanics produces wonderful fruit and vegetables, some of which could be shared with the local community.

Our initial co-creation meeting identified inequality and culture as main themes in the barriers to food security in Scotland. Community fridges may help to equalize distribution of fresh food by connecting those who have too much and those who are in need.

And most importantly, having a fridge can spark conversation and keep it going in a wide network to improve food security and reduce waste.

Would you use a community fridge? Do you want to start the movement in your community? For more information about community fridges visit the Hubbub website.