The community fridge first opened its doors almost 2 years ago. It literally started out as a fridge in Moorland Rd. The last 12 months have been phenomenal. The Fridge has had to adapt to the pandemic, tackle challenges such as finding a new home and take on new opportunities - bringing a Community Larder to reality.
Our terrific team of volunteers has never been deterred and continue to selflessly serve the
community whilst fulfilling our mission to reduce food waste and food poverty.
According to the United Nations (Food and Agriculture) a massive 1.3 Billion tonnes of food is wasted every year across the world. This equates to one third of food produced for human
consumption or up to three trillion meals over the course of a year. The figures are truly mind
With the support of our food distribution partners and eco hero volunteers and customers, the Witney Food revolution is hoping to positively change this statistic one banana at a time!
Read on to see our journey over the last 12 months:
April 2020 during the first lockdown we were operating from Moorland Road with the kind help of Witney Community Support Service. With COVID 19 we couldn’t operate as ‘help yourself’ from the fridge anymore, but we knew there were people who needed access more than ever. The solution - we made up bags and gave them out – socially distanced of course - and continued to champion the cause for reducing food waste. We also became a Community Action Group and joined CAG Oxfordshire.
July 2020. There was plenty of surplus food, and much demand but limited space. With the help of Witney Town Council, we temporarily moved to the Corn Exchange. This allowed our volunteers to work masked and socially distanced inside while serving the community outside. We partnered with The Witney Land Army who helped us deliver surplus food to those who were shielding. At the time online delivery slots for supermarkets where like gold dust, so this joint operation was a lifeline to many. It was a bewildering time as the pandemic was about to change everything. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though! There were so many fun times. Chatting to drivers, making new friendships, working together and that sense of community spirit which made us all feel proud!
We were also offered another outlet – on Church Green - and used this for an extra COVID
activity of distributing boxes of non-perishable foods kindly donated from SOFEA – plus fruit
and vegetables. This is where our partnership with SOFEA began and led to the Larder you
November 2020, we moved to our new home – courtesy of the Methodist Church – the Luke
Room at the back of the Church. Initially, as the restrictions in place at that time were limited, we were able to offer a market stall style operation under a large Gazebo, so visitors were able to self select items.
In the second lockdown that was no longer possible, the virus strain was more transmissible
and the safety of our volunteers and visitors was paramount. The amount of work behind
the scenes was incredible and enabled the fridge to stay open and serve the needs of our
Behind the scenes work has also started to prepare for the opening of the Larder – which we
hope will be one of the highlights of 2021!
The resilience of the team is second to none. Not only adapting to multiple changes but
continuing to drive forward and revolutionise the way our community can access surplus
food and create zero waste pantries at home.
In all of this there have been lots of stories of people who have been helped and also many
who have said they had no idea of how much food went to waste. Changing the way we
shop and being more mindful about where our food comes from creates change. Small
changes add up to big changes.
April 2021 saw the launch of our Community Larder and the move to The Amos Room. Our
vision was to create a beautiful shopping experience for our visitors and our volunteers – no
longer having to erect a gazebo in all weathers! We wanted bunting and fairy lights and
baskets and frills! Our dream became a reality, and the launch of the larder has so far been a
success. It works well with the fridge and provides more sustainable access to surplus food
via a membership scheme.
More information about how to join can be found here:
https://www.sofea.uk.com/purpose-projects/community-larder/ and look out for a future
blog post all things larder. At time of writing, we have 35 members, and our target is 100
members by the end of 2021. Can you help us get there?!
Over the last nine months, we handled over 40 tons of food and redistributed it to 750
visitors. Along the way we have had lots of thankyou’s, laughs, smiles [sometimes behind
masks], challenges, ups and downs…BUT, we believe in our brand, we believe every small
change helps our community, our environment and our mission to reduce food waste and
eliminate food poverty.
Change the way you shop, make one meal a day a zero-waste meal, become a member of the larder, be part of the Witney Food Revolution.