HELENSBURGH could soon join a network of more than 100 ‘community fridges’ across the UK in a bid to reduce food waste.

Founded by environmental charity Hubbub in 2016, the initiative aims to redistribute surplus food to anyone in need in the community.

The food fridge would be open to anyone to take what they like, when they like and would allow supermarkets and businesses to donate unwanted, but still usable, supplies.

Helensburgh woman Jody Hopper, who works as a support worker and cleaner, first heard of the scheme just before Christmas when she was visiting a friend in Dundee.

“I thought it was a fabulous idea and Helensburgh could really benefit from it,” she told the Advertiser.

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After posting on social media about the potential of a similar hub being set up in the town, Jody received an encouraging response and has now begun the process of adding to the seven sites currently operating in Scotland.

She said: “It’s still in the very early planning stages and will probably take around eight months before anything can be finalised. I’m just putting out some feelers to see if anyone is interested.

“Unlike a food bank, you don’t have to go and ask for anything, so it removes the stigma.

“It’s not just about the fact that there is a need for it, obviously there is a need for it because there’s an awful lot of people out there who don’t have any disposable income.

“But I do housekeeping and visit some holiday homes where a lot of people have extra food at the end of their stay which goes to waste; they have so much surplus.

“If they had somewhere to put it and if someone else could get benefit from it then that would be ideal.

“Everyone I have spoken to about it says it is a great idea and they really like it, so hopefully they can get on board.”

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As of October 2019, 80 community fridges were open and running, supporting thousands of users and saving tonnes of food items from going to waste.

If successful, Helensburgh would join Mull and Iona as the only other community fridge in Argyll and Bute, with others nearby in Paisley and Glasgow.

Kanahaya Alam, community fridge network manager at Hubbub, said: “It’s terrific to hear that there’s interest in setting up a community fridge in Helensburgh.

“Billions of pounds worth of food is thrown away in the UK each year and so our primary motivation for setting these up was to provide a simple way to prevent good, fresh food from going to waste.

“Food is mostly donated by national and local businesses and some also comes from individuals.

“The food is available to anyone in the community to take on an honesty basis and we’re now redistributing over 100 tonnes of food a month.

“The community fridges have also proven to be great at bringing communities together in other ways, such as sharing skills and equipment, community meals and running cooking and growing classes.”

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Jody added: “People have been really positive about it so far and I do hope that this is a goer.

“I’d also like to set up a clothes swap which would run alongside the community fridge and would work really well with it.

“It’s a place where people can take clothes they no longer have a need for and leave them there for other people to use; this would work particularly for kids who have outgrown their clothes.

“I’m looking at a few possible sites to locate it; you’re always going to get vandalism and anti-social behaviour but hopefully people can see beyond that and get benefit from it.

“I’m excited about it.”

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “We are keen to support ideas which help the most vulnerable people within our communities and promote health and wellbeing.

“We understand being part of the community fridge network requires input from environmental health, so we look forward to the organisers getting in touch with us and will offer what support we can.”

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