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How can I share food with my local community?

Food banks aside, there are ways that food can be shared among communities where food poverty isn’t the issue, but reducing food waste is
Graphic of loaf of bread in a tray with the word 'donate' written on it
© EIT Food

You’ll be aware of food banks which have gained a high profile over recent years due to their key role ensuring those in need have access to good food regularly. But there are also other ways that food can be shared among communities where food poverty isn’t the issue, but reducing food waste is.

Food banks

Food banks help collect and distribute unwanted food from households to people who are in most need. In the UK, the largest food bank operations are run by The Trussel Trust, which accepts foods donated by the public (donation points are known as ‘food banks’). These donations are then sorted by the trust’s volunteers.

Frontline care professionals such as doctors and social workers identify people in crisis and issue a food voucher. People in need receive three days of nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food in exchange for their food voucher.

You can help food banks by donating non-perishables such as tinned vegetables and fish, UHT milk, tea and biscuits, which are stored and handed out to those in need.

Online platforms

Various online platforms have been developed that enable the re-distribution of surplus food to the local community.

Sharing initiatives are widely spread across Europe. Here are some examples:

Smart phone apps

There are many apps available that enable you to find out about food that’s available for re-distribution in your community. All of the apps listed below are free to download from Apple Store and Google Play.


OLIO connects neighbours and local businesses for food sharing. This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away.

In order to make an item available, add a photo and description in the app and say when and where it’s available for pick up. If you need something, you can browse the listings available near you, request it and arrange a pick up via private messaging.graphic showing a hand holding a smartphone with 'free bread' on the screen

Too Good To Go

Too Good To Go is active in nine European countries and allows you to purchase unsold food and meals from restaurants at the end of the day, to prevent it from being thrown away. To use it, search for an item or meal and you’ll be shown the nearest shops and restaurants offering it.


Karma allows consumers to ‘rescue’ unsold food and meals from nearby restaurants, bars and cafés in the London area. Each shop has a profile page with location, contact details and information about what food is available.

Community fridges

graphic of hand holding smartphone displaying map of Great Britain with 'pins' scattered over itA community fridge is a temporary home for unwanted food from local businesses and households and is open for everyone in the local area to access. In the UK, the first community fridge was launched in 2016 in Frome, Somerset.

Since then, community fridges have popped up across the UK helping thousands connect to their communities, access nutritious food, save money and reduce waste. If you live in the UK, you can find your nearest community fridge here.

Positive impact

With the help of community fridges, in the 12 months from November 2018 to October 2019, 780,000kg of unwanted food was redistributed to 62,000 users.

Community fridges also help to feed families and to reduce food waste by providing advice. It’s estimated that community fridges help to prevent the equivalent of 140 tonnes of CObeing emitted every year.

Sharing food via these apps and platforms is still not widely socially accepted. Some research studies found that consumers have a range of concerns related to the safety of shared food and lack trust in the donors.

© EIT Food
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From Waste to Value: How to Tackle Food Waste

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