Food banks are a great help for people in need, as they provide a way for those in difficult financial circumstances to eat good food. Another system that is being used by some innovative people is the ‘community fridge’. People in need can take free food from the community fridge in shops and other public areas.

Food banks

Increase in Demand for Food Aid

The demand for emergency food parcels rose 20% in Scotland last year. With the increase in demand there needs to be extra supply, and this is where community fridges could come in.
A shopkeeper in Paisley has started stocking a community fridge for customers. Rekz Afzal says that customers can open the fridge and take what items they need. People are restricted to two items per day, and before taking items from the fridge, they need to show the shopkeeper proof that they are receiving government help.

People can donate food directly to the fridge or give money to help stock it. Many think these fridges are better at helping people, as food banks are often only open for limited hours, while shops are more accessible. When food banks struggle to cope with demand, especially at Christmas with the universal credit waits of six weeks, community fridges could help bridge the gap.

alongside food banks

Food Banks and Community Fridges Working Together

However the Trussell Trust director Tony Graham thinks food banks are a better option. The Trussell Trust runs 52 food banks across Scotland, and Graham thinks community fridges should run alongside food banks but not replace them. Food banks give advice and other services which community fridges cannot.

Food banks tend to stock more varied types of food to ensure quality items in food parcels, while community fridges are more likely to only stock items people do not need and are less structured in terms of nutrition.

Community fridges are simply fridges in shops stocked with items people in need can take. The fridge can be a commercial display fridge for sale from stockists such as Fridge Freezer Direct or another type of fridge, such as a chest fridge or mini fridge.

With an increase in demand around Christmas, it looks likely that more shops will look to have a community fridge in their own shop. These fridges could also appear in other public areas.