Co-op and Hubbub partner to redistribute 6.8 million meals a year in community fridge initiative

19 May 2021

Director of Community and Shared Value, Rebecca Birbeck and Co-op Group CEO, Steve Murrells, officially opening Co-op and Hubbub's first community fridge partnership with pupils from Failsworth Academy

  • Major new partnership will see 100 new community fridges added to Hubbub's network to reach 250 by the end of 2021
  • New partnership on track for 15 new fridges to open their doors this month
  • Marcus Rashford backs initiative calling out its ability to support local communities to access food and skills

Co-op and environmental charity Hubbub have today announced a major new partnership to fast-track the expansion of community fridges across the UK.

Community fridges are open to everyone in communities - without any need to be referred or having to prove eligibility - to share fresh food that would otherwise have gone to waste. The food is donated by businesses – with Co-op donating surplus food from its stores.

As well as improving access to food, the fridges go beyond this by empowering communities to connect with each other, and learn new skills through activities such as cookery sessions and workshops on how to grow your own fruit and veg. 

This new partnership, will see the existing Community Fridge Network increase to 250 community fridges over the next year, saving a further 6.8 million meals per year from going to waste. The move builds on the success of the existing 150 fridges in the network, which redistribute an average of almost 6,000 meals per fridge each month.

One of the first fridges of the new partnership has been opened this week in Failsworth, Greater Manchester at the Co-op Academy. Following this, an impressive 15 new community fridges are set to open their doors this month, including one in Wythenshawe, South Manchester – the home turf of Marcus Rashford, who has backed the partnership.

Steve Murrells, Co-op Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “Thanks to our members and customers, we’re delighted to be partnering with Hubbub on such an innovative scheme bringing communities together, empowering people towards community-led food solutions that will help to build community resilience.

“As a co-operative, we recognise our responsibility to make a genuine difference and have already made a number of interventions to help tackle food poverty and create fairer access to food, through our food share partnerships and our donations to Fareshare.

“However, our work in our local communities has shown us that to really make a sustainable difference we need to co-operate with others to build the resilience needed for the future.”

This is not the first time Co-op has helped to improve fairer access to food for everyone. Co-op played a vital role in Marcus Rashford’s Stop Child Poverty taskforce supporting his campaign for free school meals, leading the pack by funding over £3m of free school meal vouchers for Co-op academy students. Co-op also topped up the value of the government’s Healthy Start vouchers by adding £1 to every voucher spent and is continuing to do this after the recent government uplift, giving families access to more healthy and nutritious food.

Marcus Rashford MBE said: "The Co-op is a valuable founding member of the Child Food Poverty Taskforce and has consistently stepped up to the plate throughout the Global pandemic to support our most vulnerable families. They have demonstrated how community action can make real sustainable change and just how powerful we can be when we come together. Together with Hubbub, the Co-op has developed a programme that spans far beyond access to food and I'm so excited to see that my own community in Wythenshawe will benefit."

Tessa Tricks, Senior Creative Partner at Hubbub, said: “The partnership with Co-op has given Hubbub a unique opportunity to expand its Community Fridge Network at a greater scale and speed than would usually be possible. These fridges play a vital role in communities across the UK by not only providing access to good quality food while reducing food waste but by bringing people together to share and learn from one another. In the past year, many of the fridges have provided a lifeline to families struggling as a result of the pandemic and we have seen the fridges turn into a place where people come together and support each other to tackle whatever challenges are thrown at them. They really are more than just a fridge.”

The new funding will provide 100 £4,000 grants to support community fridge organisers with running costs such as volunteer expenses, insurance and cleaning materials. Co-op will also invest in the development of the Hubbub and the Community Fridge Network, to offer support to previously established fridges and other organisations that host community fridges.

For more information on The Community Fridge Network, including a map of fridge locations and advice for those interested in setting up a community fridge, visit:

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For more information, please contact:  Katie Raby | | 07896 533547   Sam Williams | | 07949 607029
Sarah Fitton | | 07702 506126

Notes to Editors 1. Based on data reported by existing community fridges between November 2019 and April 2021, which shows equivalent of 5,684 meals redistributed per month on average by each fridge. 5,684 meals per month x 12 months x 100 community fridges = 6,820,800 meals expected to be redistributed from 100 new fridges.

About the Community Fridge Network Founded by Hubbub in July 2017, the Community Fridge Network (CFN) and fridges within the Network have been funded by backers including The National Lottery Community Fund. Liebherr has been the major donor of fridge appliances.
The network provides a free support service for any group setting up or running a Community Fridge.  It aims to make it easier for new projects to become established, and to help the concept flourish across the UK and beyond. 

Members of the CFN: - Are legally registered and have public liability insurance.  - Register their fridge as a Food Business and receive a hygiene rating.  - Risk assess and demonstrate that their health and safety procedures have the approval of their local Environmental Health Officer.  - Agree to capture and report back on impact every 3 months, using the simple measurement framework provided by Hubbub.

About Co-op The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services. Owned by over 4 million UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 800 funeral homes and provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited.   Employing over 60,000 people, the Co-op has an annual turnover of £10 billion. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Co-op is a recognised leader for its social goals and community-led programmes. The Co-op exists to meet members’ needs and stand up for the things they believe in.  

When Co-op Members buy selected Co-op branded products and services, 2p for every pound spent is shared equally between the Local Community Fund for local causes and a new Community Partnerships Fund, intended to support communities through like-minded national charities and organisations.

This investment in community fridges has been made possible by Co-op members and customers thanks to the contribution of 2p in every £1 spent on Co-op own-branded products, shared between its Local Community Fund and Co-op’s new Community Partnerships Fund, which support grassroots projects that provide access to food, help improve mental wellbeing or create opportunities for young people.

Grassroots projects wanting more information about applying for the next round of the Co-op’s Local Community Fund should visit Co-op Causes UK. The closing date for applications is 30th May. For 2021, the Local Community Fund will be supporting causes which support fairer access to food, mental wellbeing services, education and employment for young people in their communities. To learn more about Co-op Membership and select a cause to support, visit: | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

About Hubbub Hubbub is an award-winning charity that inspires ways of living that are good for the environment. Hubbub designs trailblazing campaigns that make environmental action desirable; disrupting the status quo to raise awareness, nudge behaviours and shape systems. Since 2014 Hubbub has built collaborations with over 1,600 organisations, from international businesses to local authorities and community groups – inspiring over 800,000 people to take action and change their behaviour. This includes bringing together all the major coffee cup retailers to collect and recycle 5 million coffee cups in 1 year. Hubbub’s campaigns include #LeedsByExample which brought together 25 of the UK’s largest companies to boost recycling on the high street, a 3-year partnership with IKEA to create the world’s largest consumer-facing sustainability campaign ‘Live Lagom’ and creating a Network of over 150 Community Fridges across the UK, each redistributing on average 1.5 tonnes of food every month that would otherwise have gone to waste. Hubbub also runs campaigns to tackle litter, air pollution and climate change and to promote sustainable fashion. Their innovative approach saw Hubbub win the Charity of the Year Award at the prestigious Charity Times Awards in 2020. | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn