Lifeline set up, by Sustainable Merton, to tackle food poverty crisis during lockdown.
Many families are going hungry, meanwhile a huge amount of fresh food goes to waste every day. The idea behind Merton's Community Fridge, a long-terminitiative by Sustainable Merton, is to tackle both issues, redistributing surplus goods to those in need.
As the country went into lockdown, more people than ever needed help to get basic food supplies. Sustainable Merton looked at how to fast-track development of Merton’s Community Fridge so that it could meet this growing demand but also ensure that it could protect its volunteers, and those they serve.
The charity applied for a grant from Merton Giving to provide three months’ running costs so it could move quickly. Sustainable Merton undertook a COVID-19 risk assessment, recruited or redeployed volunteers and worked alongside the London Food Alliance, Merton Council, Merton College, and other local organisations to set up Merton's Community Fridge Network - a network of food distribution hubs providing a lifeline to residents.
Merton’s Community Fridge opened at Morden Baptist Church on 7th May, and within just four days it had provided food parcels, with perishable and non-perishable goods, to 75 people, including 33 children.
Diana Sterck, CEO of Sustainable Merton, notes that food poverty is only likely to increase in the months ahead and is looking for local businesses to get involved to offer surplus food. This would increase what it is able to offer, supplementing donations, and supplies from the FareShare food redistribution network.
Even when the current crisis has passed, this leading initiative will play an invaluable role in the community. “Over time we want to see a number of Merton’s Community Fridges around the borough supplying people with fresh surplus food and becoming a hub for the community to reduce social isolation and to increase awareness of the benefits of eating fresh, nutritious food,” says Diana.
You can read more about Sustainable Merton's work here.