Te Puke Community Centre

There’s a new fridge coming to town, Te Puke’s first Community Fridge

There’s a new fridge coming to town with an environmental strategy to reduce food waste, and feed those who are hungry 😉

If we stopped throwing away that food it would amount to the same drop in CO2 emissions that taking 1 in 4 cars off the road would do.

Vision: As part of our Provenance and Sustainability policy we try to reduce waste as much as possible.

Food waste is exactly that. It’s a waste! A waste of money, a waste of energy, a waste of water and a waste of packaging!

Te Puke’s Community Fridge is an initiative to help share excess food with people who need it.

Keep and eye out for progress and notifications of when the fridge will officially open.


Where did you get this idea from?

In July of 2017, Steve Fawcett attended a week long seminar in the Auckland CBD at the University of Auckland. In between sessions, Steve and a friend were walking the streets, chillin with some homeless folk and came across a community garden in the heart of the city with picnic tables, courtyard and a community fridge. This creatively thought out project grabbed Steve’s attention and from then on, Steve has been purposed to seeing the implementation of a fun, creative and environmentally sustainable initiative.

Our motto is to cover as many outcomes as possible when doing a project. This project will incorporate community collaboration, creativity, sense of place, sustainability, and is open to anyone who is keen to be part of this passion project.

What is a community fridge?

Prevention, Recycling and Recovery

A community fridge is a place where people and businesses can donate their surplus food and other people can help themselves to the food in the fridge.

Where will the Te Puke community fridge be?

The fridge, which will be open every day, will be accessible at Vector Group, which is on 16 Oxford Street, Te Puke. Businesses and individuals are encouraged to leave excess food in the fridge and anyone who needs it can it take for free.

Why does Te Puke need a community fridge?

“As a retailer you don’t want to have waste, but inevitably things go awry sometimes,” she says. “You can’t always predict fluctuations and variations so when you don’t get it right the fridge is very useful.”

  • New Zealand families throw away $872 million worth of food every year and cafes, restaurants and supermarkets also throw away millions of dollars of food every year.
  • A community fridge enables people with excess food to easily share it with people who need the food.
  • Many people would like to be able to donate their food. The community fridge is always open which allows people to drop off food at any hour, and means people can access the food whenever they need it.
  • The geographical nature of Te Puke and Districts can make it difficult for people to share food with those who may need it. The fridge is located in the heart of the Te Puke CBD.

What food is accepted for donation?

Donations are accepted of:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables – they must be mould free.
  • Tinned and dried goods – all items must be unopened.
  • Sandwiches, biscuits and baked goods – this food can only be accepted if is less than two days old and is labeled with the date and time it was made. Labels will be provided at the fridge.
  • Cooked food from registered kitchens who have a current food safety certificate. Cooked food can only be accepted if is less than two days old and is labeled with the date and time it was made. Labels are provided at the fridge.

Food that cannot be put in the fridge:

  • Unsealed or half eaten food.
  • Mouldy fruit, vegetables or bread.
  • Raw fish, meat, eggs and milk.
  • Food that has been recalled by the manufacturer.
  • Cooked food eg quiches, curries unless they are donated by a registered kitchen and correctly labeled.

What about the health and safety aspects of the fridge?

A trained food health and safety professional has created the donation guidelines and training materials for the volunteers who look after the fridge. The health and safety information provided is based on information and expertise from an established council run fridge in the United Kingdom. Their guidance documents can be viewed here.

The fridge has instructions explaining what can be donated and what can’t be donated and volunteers are rostered on to clean the fridge, check the temperature and remove any unsuitable donations.

What happens to the food which is unsuitable for donation?

The fridge is located near to a community garden.  Any food which is not suitable will be taken for composting.

Who is behind this project?

This project is the initiative of zero waste initiative by Vector Group and a group of community waste champions. The project will be funded by community for community, funders as they see fit and local business and cafes.

Is this a world first?

No, the community fridge movement began in Spain in 2015. It now has 9 fridges in towns around Spain. Other fridges have been established in England, Belgium, Argentina and United Arab Emirates.

Aren’t there already food rescue groups in Te Puke?

Te Puke has a food rescue group EmpowermentNZ which operates just around the corner. These food rescue groups take surplus food from supermarkets and bakeries where the donations are sizable in volume. The community fridge is appropriate for people who want to make smaller donations of food such as a loaf of bread, a bag of lemons from the garden, unsold sandwiches etc. Any surplus we get will be forwarded on to EmpowermentNZ.

If you have any other questions about the Te Puke Community fridge please email zerowaste@vectorgroup.org.nz


About Vector Group

Vision: A community where diversity is celebrated, and every person feels included. Mission: To create opportunities for healthy connections and self-expression. To support people who work with young people, and thereby enhance youth engagement and development and creatives so that young people thrive.

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