Traders and residents are being urged to get behind a new facility aimed at reducing food waste in a West Norfolk town.
The latest in a network of Community Fridges across Norfolk has been opened at the old Fire Station in Downham.
Three town stores have already pledged to donate a selection of unsold goods to the scheme and officials hope the community will work together to both use and stock it.
Ian Devereux, West Norfolk Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “No one likes to see edible food go to waste and this is such a simple idea to prevent it.
“Despite growing awareness of food waste generally, there aren’t that many ways for businesses to get food nearing its ‘use by’ date to others until now.
“This is an open access fridge which we hope local food retailers and residents will embrace by making good use of it.”
The fridge, which was formally unveiled on Friday, will be open from 2 to 4pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the town’s old Ferry Road fire station for people to share their surplus food.
The idea is part of broader efforts to reduce food waste, which officials say costs an average family up to £700 a year.
Organisations including the town council and Discover Downham, which runs the old fire station, are also backing the initiative.
Alan Pickering, the chairman of Discover Downham’s trustees, said: “We are more than happy to act as a bridge between local businesses and local people, especially if it prevents perfectly good food from being thrown away.
“This is an excellent way for local people to help themselves to good quality free food.”
The town’s branches of Greggs, Morrisons and Tesco have all pledged to give unsold stock to the fridge, which is the first to be set up in West Norfolk. A similar facility in Swaffham became operating in the autumn.
John Fisher, chairman of the Norfolk Waste Partnership, said: “With ultimately eleven Community Fridges being installed across Norfolk, we will have the largest local network of Community Fridges in the UK.”
Further details about the Downham Market Community Fridge can be found at www.recyclefornorfolk.com/discoverycommunities or via Discover Downham’s Facebook page.