An innovative community project to help tackle food waste in Tavistock in West Devon has been launched by the town’s library.
The Tavy Fridge has seen a large fridge and shelves installed in the library at The Quay, which will hold food donated by the community for those in need. It is being run by the library and a group of volunteers. We supported this project with a £1,000 grant and our colleagues have been involved in setting it up.
Alison Knight, our Community Connector, said: “As an organisation with a social purpose, we provide support for the communities in which our residents live.
“We are delighted to fund and help develop such an innovative project which will reduce food waste, address food insecurity and provide opportunities to connect through volunteering. This is part of our broader programme to invest in local communities in a way that benefits our customers and the wider community.”
Denise Gatley, First Assistant from Tavistock Library, said: “The donations are from the surplus in supermarkets and local shops, from generous people who are buying it to give, and even from residents’ gardens and allotments. Local carpenter Steve Alford gave his time for free to put up the shelves, and we are now almost ready to go.
“The food industry in the UK wastes 9.5 million tonnes of food a year, and enough food for 650 million meals goes to waste*. The pandemic, job losses and furlough have left many people struggling to feed themselves and their families. We believe there’s never been a more important time to try and do our bit locally to tackle these issues, and we’re thrilled that stores like Tesco, the Co-op and Lidl in Tavistock and the local food bank are already helping. We are also grateful to a band of wonderful volunteers who have come forward to help.”
Dr Sharon Gedye, one of the founding volunteers on the project, says: “Working on the Tavy Fridge project feels like such an important thing to be doing right now, we are addressing food waste and sustainability but also making food available for free. Coronavirus (Covid-19) has made this more vital than ever. It’s also been fabulous to have a purpose, working with such a great bunch of caring and talented people.”
Founding volunteer Jean Batchelor added: “We all need a helping hand. I wish I had this sort of help when I was younger. Also in a small way we are also protecting the world and the environment.”
Sarah Cooper, another volunteer who’s been involved since the start, said: “The community spirit in Tavistock is second to none, as we have seen over the last 12 months, and we’ve had a huge amount of support from local people and businesses who want to help make the town a fair place to live and also do something to tackle climate change.”
The Fridge is part of Tavistock Library which is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am-4pm.
Alex Kittow, Chief Executive for Libraries Unlimited, said: “This is just one illustration of how libraries continue to play such a central role in our communities, particularly for people whose lives have been badly affected by the pandemic. From offering lifeline book services, providing computers for people who watch services who have no internet access at home, and getting books to rough sleepers, to helping people look for jobs and working with children who have fallen behind because of school closures, we have countless examples across all our libraries of our staff and volunteers pulling together to make a difference.