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Old Town Community Fridge has recently joined the FareShare Sussex family. Based in Eastbourne, they are tackling food waste and reducing food poverty. Jo and Anna from FareShare Sussex delivered their first load of surplus food on October 11th. They were welcomed by Sandra Taylor, co-founder of the project, who works at Victoria Baptist Church, where the fridge is located. A couple of days later we had a chat with Helen
Diplock, co-founder of the project alongside Sandra, about their new Community Fridge.

Helen explained to us that the initiative was officially launched on October 13th. However, they actually started providing food earlier than that in response to a community drive to tackle food waste and fight food poverty. Old Town has hidden pockets of deprivation and is also home to many people who care for the environment and want to reduce their carbon footprint by stopping food from going to waste. Putting these two together was a natural way to solve two separate social problems.

“As a church we saw an increasing need in our community to
reduce food waste and fight food poverty which we felt called to
act on.”

– Helen Diplock

With the help of the Old Town Borough Councillors, who part funded the fridge, and the help of volunteers from The Old Town Eastbourne Salvation Army, this Community Fridge already is very well used. Every Wednesday morning, between 30 to 40 people go there to collect their food. A third of them are in food poverty, another third are on a low income and the other third are people wishing to reduce food waste. 

Helen told us that at the beginning they were able to rely on the support of their local network to collect surplus food. Other community fridges, including projects that FareShare Sussex provides food for in Eastbourne, shared and passed on what little they had leftover. However, this wasn’t enough and did not meet the immediate demand. Helen explains: “If you have a certain amount of food, people come and see what you have. They become confident in visiting you. If they know there’s not much food, they are not incentivized to come.”

Helen and Sandra are grateful for the help and support of local businesses such as Everything Spice, supplied by Poppyseed Bakery, on Albert Parade. Now, being in receipt of regular food from FareShare Sussex, they are guaranteed stability and sustainability.  Helen says “Having that guaranteed delivery of food from FareShare has made a huge difference, knowing that we will have a good supply of food each week, has given us and our customers confidence”.

It was inspiring to hear the passion and drive from Helen’s words. She sees the Old Town Community Fridge as a place to have a chat whilst sharing recipes and laughter, ultimately reducing social isolation. Helen talked about a beneficiary who visited with her daughter – while she was shopping the child was occupied playing games with others in a safe space. 

Helen and Sandra are working to provide a safe and warm space that welcomes everyone. They are already planning a new coffee area where people without much money can enjoy a sociable drink with one another. 

“Wednesday mornings at Victoria Baptist now have a wonderful
community atmosphere. It’s great to see good food being used
and not wasted.”