Sustainable Wantage is a community action group, run by volunteers, which focuses on activities that aim to protect and improve the natural environment and to build a stronger, more resilient community in Wantage. They run a market garden project, and growing and wildlife projects which all help people to live more sustainably. The Mix is a community space run by Sustainable Wantage that usually offers a repair café to fix broken technology, a resource bank and holds events like sustainability workshops.
Since the start of the pandemic, The Mix has had to stop some of its usual activities but the team has focused its efforts on meeting growing demand for its Community Fridge: collecting and distributing surplus food from local supermarkets and businesses to local people, prioritising those most in need. During the first lockdown alone, the team received 270 new sign-ups for the Fridge – and the high demand has continued. In the first 12 weeks of the first lockdown, the dedicated team volunteers made 2459 doorstep deliveries to more than 250 households in need of food.
Funding from the Co-op via the National Emergencies Trust and Oxfordshire Community Foundation, has enabled the project to expand and grow, in line with need. To-date the Community Fridge has saved 32.5 tonnes of food from going to waste and has benefitted many who have been struggling to afford to feed their families.
A volunteer for the charity told us that the team sees so many heart-warming stories of people within the community who ‘have found a new lease of life thanks to the support they have received.” One recipient of The Fridge’s food bags describes their experience: “I can’t express enough the positive impact it has on me receiving a food parcel each week. Not only does it help me to eat if I’m unable to get to the shops but it also helps my mental well-being as I feel I’m not alone and someone cares. I also feel that I’m helping in some small way with the massive food waste problem.”