Community Fridge

Start a community fridge in your community to share good food that would otherwise go to waste.

Guide en cinq étapes pour

Community Fridge

Vue d'ensemble

Community Fridge "Welcome to the Community Fridge Network on ChangeX! We want to support as many people as possible to prevent good food going to waste by setting up a Community Fridge in their local area. Here you can find all the information and resources you need and we're looking forward to helping you get up and running! Once you have completed the starter application, Hubbub will send you a digital Tool Kit with a wealth of resources to help you get set up." - Tessa Tricks, The Community Fridge Network

Cinq étapes

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The time it takes to manage and set up a fridge varies from community to community but it will need 1-3 days a week to ensure it runs smoothly.

Find a Partner Organisation

You may be an individual or perhaps you work in a charity or local community group? Either way, partnering with a legally registered organisation to lead the Community Fridge in your local area will make things much easier for you!

While you may have a number of organisations and individuals wanting to support your Community Fridge, for the purposes of public liability insurance and managing finances, you’ll need to choose one legally registered organisation to lead the project.

Your Fridge can then be included in this organization’s public liability insurance. Organizations that have set up the existing fridges have found this relatively straight forward, and have been able to include the fridge under their existing cover at no extra cost.

A suitable lead partner organization might be your local community center, community group, a local food business, a local charity, supermarket, local authority, shopping centre, school, university or any organization that is passionate about the issue of food waste and is willing to help you overcome some of the administrative obstacles to getting your Fridge up and running.

The lead organization doesn't necessarily have to be involved in the day to day running of the Fridge and you can limit the host organization’s liability by taking responsibility for providing a professionally-run and clean fridge. Arrange a meeting with your local Environmental Health Officer. If you are outside of the UK, identify your local food safety inspection body as early as possible. They will be able to provide advice based.

Once you've completed the Starter Challenge, Hubbub will share guidance on safe fridge management and food handling, along with resources which will help when meeting with your local inspection body.

Select your Location

The location of your fridge is really important! Fridges need to be in a covered and secure unit - whether this is a locker, shed, outhouse building or the foyer of a community centre.

Choose an area with high footfall and existing community activity.

Pick an area that has some level of supervision, to minimise the chances of misuse. For example an area with someone working in the vicinity or covered by CCTV.

Inside your Location

Consider what you could do with the area around the fridge and how the space could connect the community.

You may want to have space for:

  • A freezer as well as a fridge, to enable large amounts of surplus to be received and stored for longer.
  • An adjacent table with scales, documents to record the fridge contents (logging forms), comments book etc.
  • Shelves for food items that don’t need to be refrigerated, e.g. jars, bread, potatoes and onions.
  • Bins/trash cans for waste packaging and compost.
  • Wall space for information and resource sharing e.g. a community noticeboard and recipe pick up point.
  • You could even consider a help yourself herb patch!
  • Select an area that’s easily accessible to all. Consider how you can enable equal opportunity of access. For example, consider any physical, social or religious barriers when choosing your site.
  • It’s ideal if there’s a nearby site where activities associated with the fridge, such as cooking workshops or food co-ops, could take place.

Build Local Support

Who you'll need to bring on board to make your Community Fridge a success:


  • Your Local Authority (including Environmental Health / food safety inspection body).
  • Local food retailers and supermarkets. This could include coffee shops, cafés, greengrocers, delis and bakeries.
  • Community groups or charities that cook meals for local people.
  • Local cookery schools.
  • Food banks and local voluntary services.
  • Local waste management facilities.
  • Other food waste campaign groups.
  • Local press.


Engaging businesses to donate their surplus food can be challenging. Barriers include concerns over food safety, social value and potential impact on sales. Some businesses will only donate surplus to known charitable outlets, and are wary of food being freely available to the general public. Businesses that are part of larger franchises or chains either may not have the authority to commit or they may have pre-existing charity partners. Before talking to local businesses, consider the following:


  • You’re offering a service to them, reducing the amount of waste they might otherwise pay to dispose of, and helping them become ‘zero waste’.
  • You’re providing businesses with the opportunity to contribute to positive social impact and support the community. Try to connect them with personal stories about how the fridge is benefiting individuals.
  • Building trust takes time, so be patient and persistent. It also may take a while to find the right person to speak to (the key decision maker).
  • Make sure you’re talking to other beneficiaries of surplus food in the area, so approaches to businesses are ‘joined up’ and businesses aren’t bombarded with requests.
  • Offer to start on a trial basis if needed. Agree on specific pick up days and times.
  • Leave a letter for the manager or send an email.


Recruit & Train Volunteers

Whether you have a paid co-ordinator or not, you’ll still want a flock of volunteers to support the fridge. Volunteer roles could involve any number of the tasks set out in the job description, in particular:

  • Local outreach for donors.
  • Collection of food from donors and logging items into the fridge.
  • Fridge cleaning and monitoring.
  • Local fridge promotion.
  • Organising events and fundraisers to support the fridge and the local community.
  • Social media.

Documents in the Tool Kit relation to volunteer management include:

Induction Sessions

Alongside the volunteer handbook, all staff should be given an induction session and training. Training will help volunteers feel well equipped for any challenges faced when managing the fridge and should help to increase volunteer commitment.

In your induction session you may want to cover:

  • A template volunteer letter. Sharing details of the fridge and the commitment you are looking for.
  • A ‘Staff and Volunteer Handbook’. An editable handbook which includes useful information for those helping out with the fridge once it’s set up. Do feel free to edit this to make it specific to your Community Fridge.
  • A volunteer form. This includes an outline of tasks and how often they need to be done.
  • A rota and contact sheet. For logging volunteer, staff and host site contact details.
    • The story of your fridge – why and how was it set up, and by whom.
    • Information on key stakeholders – eg. supporting local organisations.
    • How the fridge and/or freezer works and how to fill in the associated paperwork.
    • The health and safety precautions.
    • The cleaning schedule.
    • The messaging of the fridge – purpose, tone and audience.
    • How the fridge is marketed locally and on social media.
    • Measurement of the impact of the fridge.
    • How they can provide feedback, report incidents or suggest improvements.

Ongoing Management

There are lots of issues to consider regarding the ongoing management of your Fridge such as:

Health and safety

  • Maintenance and ongoing monitoring
  • Signage
  • Promotional materials
  • Measurement
  • Recipe cards and food saving tips
  • PR and communications