A NEW initiative has been launched in an effort to reduce food waste and help the community in Fordingbridge.

The community fridge, located in Fordingbridge Library, was launched on Saturday, January 11 and is a project that has been led by Fordingbridge Greener Living.

Food which has reached its best before or sell by date is being donated to the community fridge by The Co-op and The Gourmet Grocer in Fordingbridge.

Wendy Reid, of Fordingbridge Greener Living, says work on the project has been ongoing since May, adding: “To get it open last week was a big relief. A lot of work has gone into the planning, I’m glad it is up and running.”

Vouchers to use the fridge can be obtained from Fordingbridge Foodbank in the United Reformed Church, The Branch in High Street, Fordingbridge Information Centre and Fordingbridge infant and junior schools.

“We want to get the word out so that people know they can come and collect the food. Just hand in your voucher to the library staff and you can have up to five items,” said Wendy. “We want to reduce food waste while helping out people in the community.”

Fordingbridge mayor, Councillor Paul Anstey, who officially opened the community fridge, said: “The fridge not only saves valuable food, they help bring people together and have become real community hubs and spirit.

“All this would not be possible if it were not for the spirit and hard work of individuals.”

It is hoped as the project progresses the fridge can be replaced with a fridge freezer which would allow more food items to be used and stored.

Paul Johnson, of Fordingbridge Co-op, said: “As an ethical and sustainable retailer, we’re delighted to be a part of Fordingbridge’s community fridge project. Store colleagues are passionate about reducing food waste and through the Co-op’s Food Share scheme, we’re able to donate a wide range of high quality produce including fruit, vegetables and baked goods, at the end of each day.”

Mr Johnson added: “The team behind Fordingbridge Greener Living do a wonderful job – it’s fantastic to see how the town is pulling together to promote more sustainable ways of living and to offer genuine help and support to those who may need it.”

Clare Johnston, of The Gourmet Grocer, said: “The driving force behind everything Greener Living is the wonderful Wendy Reid but as with all great initiatives it takes team work and fantastic volunteers to keep the plates spinning. Fordingbridge are being driven by this group to make changes to help our community, our town and our environment. We already support by being the drop off point for all crisp packets which are then recycled with funds raised going to Hampshire Air Ambulance. We wanted to help further by contributing food that is getting close to its use by date. Rather than risking it going over and being binned it can go to those within our town that really need it. We all need to do what we can where we can.”

The group will be looking at running a clothing exchange as well as starting a repair cafe.

For more information go to fordingbridgegreenerliving.org