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Orkney’s First Community Fridge

Local charity, Greener Orkney is to be part of a project launched by the Co-Op and Hubbub, aimed at redistributing 6.8 million meals a year.

Orkney’s first Community Fridge will be opening in 2022.

Community Fridges are a platform for sharing surplus food within a community to reduce food waste going to landfill. They are not means tested and are open to all. Community Fridges differ from the vital role Food Banks play but can often be a complementary provision.

There are over 100 community fridges across the UK with each fridge sharing one to four tonnes of food per month. Each year these community fridges redistribute 975 tonnes of food surplus (equivalent to 1.9 million meals) and benefit up to 77,500 people. The project aims to increase the number of community fridges to 250.

Greener Orkney has been awarded a grant of £4,000 toward the initial setup costs.

Angela Fitzpatrick, Greener Orkney Treasurer, said:

“The premise of a Community Fridge is simple – whatever items are available can be taken by anyone.

“As well as food sharing, Community Fridges give people opportunities to contribute through volunteering, learning new skills and sharing their existing skills.”

photo of red pepper beside pickles
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

Jane Nelson, Chair of Greener Orkney, said:

“Although the project will start small, we intend it to grow and estimate we will eventually need twenty volunteers to open and close the fridge each day, collect food from suppliers, and ensure the area is clean and tidy. We are reaching out to local charities and organisations to see how we can combine efforts to quickly expand this project.”

Possible premises have been identified but first must be approved by Environmental Health to operate as a community fridge. Opening hours will depend on the number of volunteers and what donations are received. There will be a dedicated Facebook page and volunteers will update it daily to advise what food is available.

If any organisations or individuals are interested in helping with, or finding out more about the project, please reach out to Greener Orkney: greenerorkney@gmail.com

Food Waste v Poverty

An incredible amount of food is wasted every day even in our own homes. One of the worst times will be over the Christmas period where consumers habitually buy too much. Zerowaste Scotland has some tips on how to cut down on food waste. Check out also Helen Armet’s recipes in The Orkney News on how to reduce waste and make affordable family meals.

What is just as shocking as the amount of food wasted is that many in Orkney, and across Scotland, will have to choose between heating and eating. It’s termed ‘food insecurity’ or ‘food poverty’ but it’s simply ‘Poverty’. In a nation with a richness of natural resources and the finest produced quality food in the world – thousands of Scots have to go to a Foodbank in order to get the most basic need of all met.

April 2020 – March 2021

Heriot Watt researchers produced a report for The Trussell Trust: State of Hunger.

The Report states that top amongst the factors driving the need for food banks is the ‘welfare’ system or ‘social security’. It highlights:

  1. Low levels of benefit income and deductions
  2. Other design issues, e.g. five-week wait for Universal Credit (UC)
  3. Administrative problems

 In March 2020, 3 million people were on Universal Credit in the UK. Numbers rose substantially during the coronavirus crisis, reaching 5.8 million people by the end of 2020. At 12 August 2021, there were 5.9 million people on Universal Credit.

Your Universal Credit payment is made up of a standard allowance and any extra amounts that apply to you, for example if you:

  • have children
  • have a disability or health condition which prevents you from working
  • need help paying your rent

Use a benefits calculator to see how much you could get.

The UK Parliament passed the Rape Clause’ which means that there is no payment for the third child and more unless the mother can prove they were conceived as a result of a rape. In Scotland the Scottish Parliament has introduced a range of measures to mitigate the effects of the Rape Clause and other cuts to welfare payments such as the Bedroom Tax.

As a result of the devastating impact of the Covid pandemic and the economic consequences to families and those on lower incomes the UK Chancellor brought in a temporary uplift payment of £20 a week to Universal Credit payments. The UK Government removed this safety net. Tory MPs in Scotland supported the removal of the £20.

Areas with a higher proportion of the population receiving Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit also tend to have lower healthy life expectancy. 

The Health Foundation

This week MPs with second (and multiple) jobs got very agitated that the public cannot understand why their basic annual salary (minus expenses) of £81,932 is not enough for their needs. This is the same UK where the full new State Pension is £179.60 per week.

Meanwhile back in Scotland there are plans to end the need for Foodbanks: National Plan to End the Need for Foodbanks

Poverty, Public Health and the Pandemic

After adjusting for age, people living in the most deprived areas were 2.5 times as likely to die with COVID-19 as those in the least deprived areas. The size of this gap has slowly widened from 2.1 to 2.5 over the period of the pandemic.

National Records of Scotland

The Covid pandemic has highlighted the appalling consequences of poverty and ill health (both mental and physical) within our communities.

For some there are different priorities: MP Sleaze: Johnson faces call for ban on MP second jobs

Fiona Grahame

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