Community fridge installed in the middle of Auckland's CBD

Blogger Amanda Chapman is the brains behind a new community fridge in Auckland's CBD.
ELESHA EDMONDS/FAIRFAX NZ

Blogger Amanda Chapman is the brains behind a new community fridge in Auckland's CBD.

Organisers of a community fridge in the middle of Auckland's CBD have gone above and beyond to ensure free food on offer meets health safety standards.

On Wednesday a community fridge was installed in the new pop-up Griffith Gardens on the busy corner of Mayoral Drive and Wellesley St West

Businesses and the public are being encouraged to leave edible food which would otherwise go to waste - and anyone is welcome to grab a bite to eat.

The fridge is always open which allows people to drop off or access the food at all hours.
ELESHA EDMONDS/FAIRFAX NZ

The fridge is always open which allows people to drop off or access the food at all hours.

Zero waste blogger Amanda Chapman, 25, is the brains behind the community fridge which involves a team of volunteers and a rigorous food safety plan.

READ MORE: Food waste costs New Zealand $870m

The Onehunga resident said its purpose was to ensure edible food did not go to waste and that the hungry were fed in the process.

The community fridge is checked twice a day by a team of volunteers.
ELESHA EDMONDS/FAIRFAX NZ

The community fridge is checked twice a day by a team of volunteers.

The fridge will operated until December 23.

Chapman said the fridge was checked twice a day by volunteers who read and sign a "very big orientation pack".

They check the temperature and dates on the food - making sure it is safe to eat. Any food unsuitable is removed for composting.

"It is still in its infancy so we have to put some tight restrictions on it," Chapman said.

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Ministry for Primary Industries' food and beverage manager Sally Johnston said the organisers of the fridge had gone above the food safety requirements around donated food.

Johnston said she was sure the volunteers would notice if "there were any niggly trust issues" around people's intentions. 

"In New Zealand we have a high level of trust as this kind of movement may not work in other countries," she said. 

"A lot of care and limitations are in place and they all operate off that level."

Chapman hopes the initiative will encourage Aucklanders to give unwanted food a new lease of life.

New Zealand families throw away $872 million worth of food every year while cafes, restaurants and supermarkets throw away millions of dollars of food every year.

Inspired by community fridges in Europe, Chapman pitched her idea to Auckland Council's Love Food Hate Waste team, who offered to fund the project.

"Originally we wanted it at Britomart Station or a transport hub but with so much going on in the city at the moment it's quite hard," Chapman said.

Chapman said the fridge was open 24 hours which allowed people to drop off or access the food at all hours.

Etched on the fridge is one simple rule: take what you need and leave what you don't.

Individuals are invited to share excess garden produce, tinned or dried goods.

Commercial bakeries and cafes were being encouraged to donate unsold bread, sandwiches and baked items which would have otherwise been thrown away.

Chapman said she became an advocate for waste-free living 10 years ago after she noticed how much rubbish was thrown away at supermarket she worked at.

"The bin was full of packaged bread and cakes made the day before," she said. 

"It was shocking, there was so much perfectly edible food going to waste, yet so many people are hungry."

The community fridge movement originated in Spain in 2015. Other fridges have since been established in England, Belgium, Argentina and United Arab Emirates. 

What food is accepted for donation?

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables – they must be mould free.
  • Tinned and dried goods – all items must be unopened.
  • Sandwiches, biscuits and baked goods – this food can only be accepted if is less than two days old and is labelled with the date and time it was made. Labels are provided at the fridge.
  • Cooked food from registered kitchens who have a current food safety certificate.

Food that cannot be put in the fridge:

  • Unsealed or half eaten food.
  • Mouldy fruit, vegetables or bread.
  • Raw fish, meat, eggs and milk.
  • Food that has been recalled by the manufacturer.
  • Cooked food such as quiches, curries - unless they are donated by a registered kitchen and correctly labelled.

 - Stuff

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