A community fridge in the Vale of Clwyd has collected over 7.5 tonnes of food for distribution in its first year – most of which would have ended up in landfill.
The impressive milestone achieved by Oergell Gymunedol Dinbych (Community Fridge Denbigh), which is based at the Eirianfa Community Centre in Denbigh, has been hailed as a “big success” by Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth during a visit to see the group.
As it celebrates its first anniversary, the organisation says demand is increasing as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite.
The community project is part of Bwyd Cymunedol Dinbych/Denbigh Community Food, which has been wholeheartedly supported by Plaid Cymru councillors on Denbighshire County Council.
Oergell Gymunedol is run by a group of over 20 dedicated volunteers, who have collectively put in 600 hours of volunteering since it was started.
Cllr Delyth Jones, who is Leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Denbighshire County Council, emphasised that the scheme, which began in November 2023 and has recently been awarded a five star food hygiene rating, is “open to everyone”.
Cllr Jones, who represents the ward of Denbigh Caledfryn Henllan, was also joined on the visit by North Wales MS, Llyr Gruffydd, is determined to tackle the stigma that can be attached to using a service like this.
Bwyd Cymunedol Dinbych was established to help make food more sustainable, local and healthy for all.
The community fridge is environmentally friendly because 7.5 tonnes of food it diverted from being dumped in landfill is equivalent to preventing 57.7 tonnes of harmful CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “As Oergell Gymunedol Dinbych reaches its first birthday it’s clear it’s been a big success.
“I’m grateful to all of the volunteers who work hard to ensure that there is practical help available to those who really need it.
“People are proud, of course, and want to be able to look after their own families. But many – through no fault of their own – can sometimes find themselves in a situation where they can’t make ends meet. A project like this, which is open to anyone, is important in tackling the stigma associated with reaching out for that help.
“Plaid Cymru is proud to be supporting this important project – the difference they are making in the community is clear to see.
“We are in a situation where more and more projects like Oergell Gymunedol are necessary due to the increasing cost of living crisis – tackling that rising injustice is at the heart of Plaid Cymru’s work in standing up for our communities across Wales.”
Cllr Delyth Jones said: “Getting rid of the stigma is vitally important and that is one of the cornerstones of the project that there is fresh food for everyone and that we create a community where everyone works together so that everyone gets to know each other and through that can support one and other.
“This isn’t for just one section of the community. This is for everyone. The more people support the project and the more people get involved, the better it will be for everybody.
“A big part of this project is that we don’t waste food. Much of what is collected from the supermarkets would go to total waste otherwise. This way people get good use out of it.”
Oergell Gymunedol Dinbych volunteer Eiddwen Watkin said: “We collect surplus food from local supermarkets every day and then we open on Monday and Thursday for two hours in the morning. We lay the food out and then absolutely anyone can come in and help themselves.
“We collect from all the local supermarkets, so Aldi, Lidl. Morrison’s and the Co-op. Therefore, the amount of food we collect varies but the other day we got over 200 kilos.
“The number of people coming through the door is increasing. The most we’ve had in a day so far is 73. It’s clear that the cost of living is affecting people.
“It’s important that we give out quality fresh food. We’ve recently been awarded a five star rating by the Food Standards Agency. We don’t give out meat or fish, and so most of what we give out is fruit and veg.”
Plaid Cymru MS, Llyr Gruffydd said: “Oergell Gymunedol Dinbych is a fantastic project that is clearly making an enormous difference to people in the local community.
“It was a pleasure to meet with the volunteers and hear about the work they have been doing. The dedication they have shown is remarkable.
“The atmosphere here is warm and welcoming and I would encourage anyone in the local community to come here and make the most of the wonderful food that is available.”