Fishguard and Goodwick Community Fridge
Lesley Matthews has been concerned about climate change for a very long time, so when she happened upon the Fishguard and Goodwick Community Fridge, she was delighted to get involved.
“After over 20 years visiting Pembrokeshire with my husband, we made the move from Bristol to live here about two years ago. I love waking up every morning and seeing the sea,” she told me.
As a retired teacher, Lesley found herself with time on her hands and a need to be part of her new community. However, since she found the Community Fridge she has also taken on the new role of food saver champion.
For those of you who don’t know, Transition Bro Gwaun, which is behind the project, is a grassroots organisation, connected to the global Transition network. It initiates and develops localised, community-based projects that make the best use of resources such as food, reduce use of fossil fuels, and harness renewable energy. TBG started the Community Fridge as a food-saving initiative.
“My role is to coordinate and manage volunteers who keep the Community Fridge stocked with the food, food that is available for anyone to take.”
Anyone? Don’t you mean poor people, people who can’t afford to buy fresh food – like people who use food banks?
Lesley shakes her head. “It’s really important that people know that the Community Fridge is for everyone. Of course people who are on low incomes or struggling financially make use of the fridge, and they are most welcome, but absolutely anyone can come and take what they need. The food there is close to its ‘best before or ‘use by’ date, and if it isn’t eaten, it will be wasted.”
Does that matter?
“It certainly does. In the time that we have been open, we have saved a massive amount of food from going to waste. That food would have created carbon emissions, as it rotted, contributing to global warming. The point of the Community Fridge is for all of that food to be eaten by someone. We don’t discriminate about who eats it.”
When you say food close to its “use by” is that food still edible?
“It certainly is, but there is a difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’. Volunteers are trained in food hygiene NVQ up to level 2, and we are very strict about recording and managing donations. All the food is checked when it arrives and the dates logged. It is all kept appropriately and we never keep anything that has gone past its ‘use by’ date because, although it might be OK to eat after that date, it would be illegal for us to redistribute it.”
So what does “best before” mean? Is it safe to eat after that date?
“It applies to quality. There is a small chance that food consumed after its ‘best before’ date may have lost some of its flavour, but most of it is perfectly good for some time after the ‘best before’ date – for days, weeks, even months and years in the case of things like dried, tinned and bottled food. We would just encourage people to use their common sense – look, smell, taste, as with any food.”
What sort of food do you have in the Fridge?
“We have donations of dairy products like yoghurts and milk and cheese. Some of these are organic and are very good quality. We have fresh fruit and vegetables, bread and pastries. We don’t take meat or fish as it’s high-risk food and could contaminate other foods. We never know what will come in and can be surprised, but it’s all good food and it’s free to collect.”
“It’s all free, though we welcome donations. The fridge is run largely by volunteers but any donations will go towards keeping the project going.”
Where do the foodstuffs come from?
“From all sorts of shops and supermarkets. We collect from a wide range of generous sources. Various suppliers provide us with stock that is approaching its ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates. Anyone with a surplus can also donate. People bring fruit, vegetable and herbs that they cannot use up. Volunteers collect from the supermarkets and everything is sorted, checked and logged.”
Tell me about your volunteers?
“They are a great bunch of people, working on a rota, so we always have food collected and sorted quickly. People are also needed daily to open and close the Fridge. We always welcome new volunteers.”
Where is the Fridge and when is it open?
“It is situated in a shed outside the Gateway building, which is behind the Fire Station in Fishguard. It was the first of its kind in Wales, but more are springing up. To check our opening times go to our Facebook page.”
Sounds really positive. How can people get involved?
“If you can donate some money when you collect the food, that will be wonderful. There is a box inside the shed. Every penny goes into supporting the continued work of the project. You are just as welcome if you don’t have any spare cash.”
If you have surplus, unopened food that is going to go to waste, please consider bringing it to the Community Fridge, BUT, most importantly,” Lesley says emphatically, “ use the food in the shed We want the food used so it isn’t wasted. You won’t only be getting good-quality food but you will also be doing your little bit to save this lovely county of Pembrokeshire, for Wales and the whole world.”
Please check the Community Fridge Facebook page for opening times, events and how to get involved.