The community fridge in Cornwall which has 60 families queuing for food every day

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report

A community fridge in St Austell has quadrupled the number of families it provides fresh food parcels for amid the rising cost of living.

Carolyn Boyce, who runs Remake Cornwall, says everybody has got each other's backs but their bills are escalating rapidly too.

The biggest costs now comes from running the fridges, which just keeps on doubling and doubling.

"When we first opened here 18 months ago, it was £50 a month for electricity. This month we're on £250 and I've just received a letter saying both our unit costs and our daily costs are going to double on the first of March."

47 families queued around the building the day ITV West Country filmed at the community fridge Credit: ITV News

Every day volunteers at Remake Cornwall collects food which has not sold in supermarkets and four times a week it is redistributed among the community.

When it started in summer 2020, the charity helped around 15 families - now it gives away up to 60 parcels and people start to queue around the building up to an hour before it opens.

In January and February, Remake Cornwall supplied around 1,200 food parcels but its volunteers say they now have to ask for a £1 donation to cover the ever-increasing running costs.

Carolyn says she need more help to bring the costs down so is asking people to donate to its ongoing crowdfunder appeal to buy more energy efficient fridge freezers.

Graham regularly uses the fridge because he says his winter warmer payments of £140 will only last him "two-three weeks" and he can see that in the future "that's not even going to touch the surface".

Nicola Barrett is a children's entertainer for Disney Cruises but she says with work still not back to normal "saving money is like the good thing at the minute for me".

Adrian Barnard says he uses the community fridge to eat food that would otherwise go to landfill and saves "between £50-£100 a month" compared to supermarkets. 

Kelly Quinn in St Stephens says she cannot thank Carolyn and the Remake Cornwall team enough for their support Credit: ITV News

There is a small group of people Remake Cornwall deliver food parcels to in exchange for a bigger donation.

Kelly Quinn cannot drive because she only has the use of one hand, and her husband has other health problems which mean neither are able to work right now.

She says having these deliveries means "the kids can eat" and eases the pressure on paying for the heating bills.

"The cost of living is absolutely astronomical. I mean, we've got these storage heaters and we just can't afford to have them on. So we have little plug in heaters which we put in each room where we are at whatever time just to get some sort of heat in the house."

The team re-label all food so nothing spoils or goes to landfill unecessarily. Credit: ITV News

What is a community fridge?

Sustainability is the main aim of a community fridge; they exist to stop unsold food being sent to landfill.

Unlike a food bank or community larder, which typically gives food that can be stored for a long time, a community fridge has mostly fresh produce.

Remake Cornwall collects food unsold from supermarkets every evening and redistribute it.

They freeze anything that can last longer, and re-label the products with their new use-by dates.

Also, unlike a food bank, there is no need to show a referral letter or share information to prove you are in need.