A community fridge is a place where people and businesses can donate their surplus food and those in need can help themselves to this free food. Whanganui Regional Health Network (WRHN) has coordinated the Whanganui Community Fridge setup and with the project now complete, the Kai Hub will manage it going forward. Together we aim to strengthen and empower the community, and combat wastage through food rescue and redistribution.
This project has been in the planning since 2018, but gained momentum in the last 18 months, with a site identified and funding grants obtained. There have been many challenges along the way, including finding the right location, resource costs and access, and COVID impacts, but with determination and community support, it has made it across the line.
The funding obtained from the Ministry of Social Development, Lottery Grants Board, Grumpy Old Men Enterprises (G.O.M.E), Rotary Club of Whanganui, Rotary Club of Wanganui North and Whanganui Community Charitable Trust has been pivotal towards the progression of this project. Fisher & Paykel has also been onboard since the conception and has generously donated four large fridge freezers to the Community Fridge and Kai Hub.
WRHN Project Lead, Karen Veldhoen commends the wide range of contributions towards the fridge. “I am so grateful for the support received from the funders. They already do so much for the community and I truly appreciate them getting behind this worthwhile initiative,” says Ms Veldhoen. “There are also those who have contributed in other ways – the District Council property team in the initial search for a location, Whanganui City College Principle and Vice Principle being so receptive to the fridge being on their grounds, Wells & Wadesworth helping with the siting of the container, and of course the Kai Hub for supporting the ongoing management.”
The container was to initially be located at the back of the Whanganui City College (WCC) grounds, to sit near the student’s community garden; but with the Kai Hub securing the WCC hostel building lease, it made more sense to work collaboratively and site the Community Fridge on that property. The proximity to the garden is closer now and the students will still be part of this initiative, making contributions from the crops that they harvest.
While the Kai Hub are obtaining food from supermarkets, anyone can contribute to the fridge. “People that have excess fruit and veges from their gardens are welcome to donate to the fridge,” says Ms Veldhoen. The rescued food also gets distributed to groups working in this space, like Te Ora Hou, Pasifika community, Koha Shed and City Mission.
The Community Fridge is situated at the back of the Whanganui City College hostel property on St Hill Street and is now open to the public. The Community Fridge will initially operate Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 12-4pm. These times will be reviewed by the Kai Hub and adapted as required. People wanting further information can email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the Kai Hub Facebook page.