The sites are a platform for sharing surplus food within a community to reduce food waste going to landfill. They are not means tested and are open to all. Community Fridges differ from the vital role food banks play, but can often be a complementary provision.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey, said: “There are just over 100 community fridges across the UK. Each year these community fridges can redistribute over 975 tonnes of food surplus, which is equivalent to 1.9 million meals, and benefit over 77,000 people.
“I am pleased to say our borough is again adding to this figure with the opening of the third such fridge in Larne. This project was made possible through funding from the Department for Communities Covid-19 Food Partnership, Extern’s Communities in Transition project, and the Northern Ireland Executive.
“Larne Area Community Support Group and council staff have been working together over the last year to develop this project and I look forward to seeing residents, and the environment, benefiting from this initiative.”
Danny McQuillan, CEO of Extern, said: “We were delighted to work alongside Larne Area Community Support Group and council on this initiative. As well as the many environmental benefits of a Community Fridge, there are also far-reaching health and wellbeing benefits. Community Fridges provide opportunities for volunteers to come together, share skills and socialise. There are opportunities for those visiting the fridge to interact and connect with a wider network.
“As one of the leading providers of mental health services in Northern Ireland, we understand only too well the impact which the past two years have had on people’s wellbeing. That is why initiatives such as this are much-needed after such a difficult period in which we have seen social isolation and loneliness increase.”
Lynsey Poole, chairperson of Larne Area Community Support Group and a volunteer Community Champion with Extern, said: “After much work in the background we are delighted to finally open the doors to the public. The community garden has also had a makeover with herbs, fruit trees, vegetables and pollinator friendly varieties which were planted by volunteers and Gary Bissett from Inver Garden Centre.
“The garden is now part of an incrEDIBLE Garden community action project funded by Food for Life Get Togethers, supported by the National Lottery Community Fund. These improvements will hopefully ensure the area is attractive for those wishing to sit a while and socialise, and will complement our work in the Community Fridge.
“Volunteers will be opening and closing the fridge, collecting food from suppliers, and ensuring the area is clean and tidy. Openings hours will very much depend on volunteer availability and what donations are made available from suppliers. The doors will close early when all the food is gone. We’d recommend checking the Facebook page for updates before visiting.
“The premise of a Community Fridge is simple – whatever items are available can be taken by anyone. We’d ask visitors to respect the space and the volunteers and to only take what they will use – remembering that the main aim is to reduce food waste. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the beautiful community garden and new Community Fridge.”
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