02 March 2023

Oldham Community Fridge

The project was announced by Oldham Council Leader Amanda Chadderton and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and will aim to help fight food insecurity.

A Community Fridge is a space that brings people together to eat, connect, learn new skills and reduce food waste. It is a site where local people can share food, this includes surplus from supermarkets, local food businesses, producers, households and gardens.

On Wednesday 1 March, Oldham Council Leader Amanda Chadderton and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham launched a Community Fridge at Greenacres Community Centre in Oldham.

The fridge will be run by community groups with the main purpose of saving fresh food from going to waste. This is now more important than ever with the current high costs of living and less food waste will be a benefit for the environment.

The journey for this Community Fridge Pilot began with the Co-op and the environmental charity Hubbub supporting the ‘In Our Nature’ programme which is a partnership between Manchester Climate Change Agency, Hubbub, Groundwork Greater Manchester, Amity, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research and Manchester City Council.

Following the success of the Community Fridges through the In Our Nature programme, Hubbub and the Co-op were asked if they could pilot and fund a cluster of Community Fridges in a Greater Manchester locality which would provide one in every 30-50,000 neighbourhood footprint. They agreed to undertake this pilot in Oldham as there was already a Community Fridge based at the Failsworth Co-op Academy.

This cluster pilot is a first and Hubbub, the Co-op and Action Together have worked collaboratively to identify suitable locations and host organisations in communities to ensure there is equal coverage across the district.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “I congratulate Hubbub, Co-op and Action Together for launching their Community Fridge pilot in Oldham following a request by the Greater Manchester Food Security Action Network to pilot a cluster model in the city region. This initiative will involve working with the local community to tackle food insecurity and reduce food waste amidst the difficult times we’re in with the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis.

“Our recent Greater Manchester Residents Survey found that 8 in 10 people say their cost of living has increased over the past month and around 70,000 more households are experiencing food insecurity compared to last spring. People are clearly struggling and that’s why projects such as Community Fridges are so vital in providing a safety net for those who need it. It will also contribute to our ambitions towards carbon net zero by reducing avoidable food waste by making sure it goes to people. This community-led approach can help residents access healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in a dignified way whilst also helping the environment.

"I hope this pilot is a success and I look forward to seeing it rolled out across Greater Manchester.”

Oldham Council Leader, Amanda Chadderton, said: "With high costs of living continuing to impact everyone we need to urgently address the issue of food waste and food insecurity.

"In September of 2022, over a quarter of households (nationally) with children experienced food insecurity, that represents over four million children. We also know that shockingly, 27% of UK children are living in poverty, and in Oldham this figure at almost 40%.

"For young people, some of which the cost of living crisis has heavily impacted, food insecurity contributes to increased anxiety, poor mental health, poor social and emotional development, and a reduced level of achievement in school.

"That’s why I’m so pleased to see this scheme taking place as I know it will make a real difference to families and those who are struggling. One step at a time, ideas like this will help us work toward our goal of ending food insecurity and the inequalities it brings.

"Thank you to everyone involved in this project – you are making a real difference."

Matt Hood, Managing Director, Co-op Food said: “We recognise our responsibility to make a genuine difference to the communities we serve and absolutely believe that everybody should have access to good food. We’re pleased to be working with our partners to grow the essential community fridge network to directly help people in Oldham come together to eat, connect, learn new skills and reduce food waste. It is a real and significant step for this community to ensure fairer access to food for all.”

“For all at Co-op, this feels like a real step in the right direction to ensure fairer access to food for all.”

Aoife Allen, Director, Hubbub said: “Today’s launch shows true community spirit and co-operation in action. We are proud that there are now over 450 brilliant community fridges across the UK, where anyone can meet their neighbours and take home good food that would otherwise go to waste. With support from Co-op and all our partners in Greater Manchester, we look forward to seeing the benefits that these community fridges will bring to Oldham.”


Notes to editors

The Community Fridge Network is coordinated by Hubbub and it connects ‘fridges’ across the UK. Hubbub have partnered with Co-op to fund 500 fridges by the end of 2023. It is a support network for groups running community fridges to share knowledge and skills and to ask questions.

The Network offers free guidance on how communities can set up their own fridge and provides comprehensive support, design assets, a knowledge sharing forum, health and safety templates and discounted fridges and freezers.

More information about Community Fridges are available on the hubbub website: Community Fridge Network

About Co-op: Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates over 2,500 food stores, over 800 funeral homes and provides products to over 5,000 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited.

Employing almost 60,000 people, the Co-op has an annual turnover of over £11billion and 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.