This neighbourhood project will combat food waste and poverty

Every year Dutch throw away about 2.5 billion euros of food. At the same time, there is still a lot of poverty in our country. The solution? A neighborhood fridge with free meals.

The libraries on the side of the road are now very popular, but also the neighbourhood refrigerators are becoming increasingly famous. The idea is simple: a refrigerator in the district where remains of food can be brought to. Local residents who need it can grab the freshly prepared meals.

Fresh & Vrij

Vers & Vrij from The Hague started in October 2019 with this project to combat food waste in catering and to combat poverty. Meanwhile they work together with fifteen restaurants and one they have more than ten richly stocked refrigerators scattered throughout The Hague.

The showcase refrigerators with leftover products from local restaurants, for example, are located in the neighbourhood centres of various The Hague districts. โ€œThe refrigerator can be filled with dishes ranging from mashed potatoes to Turkish lentil soup or even an Indian curryโ€, explains initiator Arna van der Sloot. โ€œTogether with several volunteers, we provide a stocked refrigerator. During the Corona period, we sometimes cook ourselves.โ€

According to her, this is desperately needed, because over 1 million Dutch people live below the poverty line. In The Hague, too, the initiative is not superfluous: out of the 20 poorest postal code areas, seven are in The Hague. โ€œAnyone who deems it necessary is free to get out of the mini fridge what they need.โ€

Other initiatives

Several municipalities, villages and cities have now such a neighbourhood fridge and also well-known chains such as Jumbo participate in the concept. For example, the Open Fridge initiative of the well-known supermarket asks customers who can afford to buy some extras.

For example, cities such as Groningen ask if people want to put leftover fresh food in the fridge.

Food waste is, according to Vers en Vrij, a serious problem, because 800,000 loaves are thrown away in the Netherlands, for example. You can imagine how many people could have lunch and breakfast every day.โ€