Cookies information uses cookies to make the site simpler. Find out more about the cookies we use.

Close banner

Exeter libraries tackle food waste with community fridges

Published: 15 June 2023

Exeter libraries tackle food waste with community fridges Community fridges

Two Exeter libraries are addressing food waste with a community fridge initiative. These initiatives, run by volunteers on a daily basis, are ensuring that surplus food quickly finds a home.

The effort aims to mitigate the carbon impact of food production by ensuring that good food is consumed rather than wasted.

The community fridges, located in Exeter Central Library and St Thomas Library, are open to all and provide food for free.

Most of the food in the community fridges comes from businesses along the supply chain that have surplus food due to various reasons, such as small packaging errors or overstock issues.

Some community fridges also accept contributions from households, though it's essential to confirm with your local community fridge, as each is slightly different.

A large portion of the food in the community fridges is past its 'Best Before' date, a quality indicator primarily found on non-perishable foods. 'Use By' is a safety date found on more perishable items, and no food in the community fridges is past this date.

The St Thomas Library Community Fridge, possibly the only vegan community fridge in the UK, is coordinated by Love Food CIC and funded by the Coop via Hubbub, which runs the national Community Fridge Network.

It accepts contributions from households and business/community surplus, but only whole fruit & veg and sealed products labelled vegan. Recently opened, it is run by a team of six volunteers.

People interested in joining the team are encouraged to get in touch.

Maresa Bossano, who runs Love Food, said, "Food waste is a significant contributor to climate change. By using the Community Fridge, we all get to play our part in helping the environment."

The Exeter Central Library Community Fridge, coordinated by the National Lottery-funded 'Food Rescue' project, only takes food from local businesses and has 18 potential supermarket collections across the week.

In just over a year, it has redistributed over 5,000kg of food, equivalent to around 12,000 'meals' with a financial value of at least £15,000 and a 16 Tonne CO2e footprint.

The Central Library Fridge is also run by a team of six active volunteers.

Those interested in a remote, micro-volunteering role to support the fridge are encouraged to get in touch.

The fridges operate on a self-service basis and expect visitors to take only a handful of items at most, allowing as many people as possible to find something of interest.

The fridges are open whenever the libraries are open.

Zoë Woodbridge, Library Supervisor in St Thomas, said, "The fridge is a great addition to the library. We have seen new customers coming in just to use the fridge, and our regular customers love that it is vegan and offers a great variety of fresh fruit and veg. Local allotment users bring in their surplus, and we are happy to do our bit to combat food waste in the community."

To find out more about the Exeter fridges, visit:

Share this page on...