Transforming leftovers into lifelines: The Feed Well Fridge Community Project

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC- In a lively community like Chatham county, where local businesses thrive and residents are deeply invested in its well-being, an inspiring initiative is quietly reshaping the narrative around food waste and insecurity. The Feed Well Fridge Community Project, spearheaded by Sara Cuni and Susan White of the Root Cellar, is making significant strides in ensuring that surplus food from events, grocery stores, and restaurants doesn’t end up in landfills but rather in the fridges placed strategically around the county. The project is not only combating food waste but also addressing the pressing issue of food insecurity in our community.

The first Feed-Well Fridge, which was delivered to Siler City on August 28, is located at 219 Chatham Square. The owners of Countryside Collectibles and Antiques agreed to partner with Sara to bring this free fridge to the Siler City community.

A Brief Overview

The Feed Well Fridge Community Project is a response to the sizable amount of leftover food from community events, especially those catering to Chatham’s business leaders and partners. Sara and Susan recognized an opportunity to bridge the gap between surplus food and those in need. The fridges, strategically placed in Siler City and outside CORA, serve as a conduit for redirecting excess food away from trash bins into the hands of those facing food insecurity.

From Waste to Well-Being: The Repurposing Process

When I attended the State of Chatham presentation, I ran into Larkin Willis who brought me in the Chatham Ag Center kitchen area. She showed me the containers of surplus breakfast catered food that was leftover from the event. The food that would have otherwise gone to waste is now repurposed into individual meals. These meals are then placed in the fridges, ready to be picked up by anyone in need. The repackaging process ensures that the food is easily accessible and can be reheated or consumed as is.

The Root Cellar team works closely with grocery stores, farmers, and restaurants to coordinate the collection of surplus food. The success of this project hinges on the seamless collaboration between different stakeholders, highlighting the community’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.

Addressing the Growing Need

Chatham County has experienced an increase in its poverty rate, according to recent statistics shared during the State of Chatham presentation. However, a silver lining emerges as the food insecurity level has seen a decline. The Feed Well Fridge Community Project, a contributor to this positive trend, ensures that the fridges are consistently stocked. In fact, these fridges are refilled daily, sometimes even twice a day, underlining the project’s impact on meeting the immediate food needs of the community.

The Fridge – More Than Just a Box

When picturing a fridge, one might envision a household appliance, but these community fridges are anything but ordinary. They are full-sized, with both frozen and refrigerated sections. The frozen items, like soups, provide an extended shelf life, allowing recipients to store them at home until needed. The refrigerated section, on the other hand, houses ready-to-eat meals, eliminating the need for extensive preparation.

The convenience of these fridges, coupled with their regular replenishment, ensures that community members facing food insecurity can access fresh and varied meals, contributing to their overall well-being.

Community Engagement and Collaboration

The success of the Feed Well Fridge Community Project is rooted in the active involvement of the community. Whether it’s local businesses, farmers, or individuals with surplus food, everyone plays a vital role in making this initiative a triumph. The Root Cellar team encourages those with food that can be repurposed to reach out. The process is simple – a message through the Root Cellar Chapel Hill or Root Cellar Pittsboro Facebook page is all it takes to get involved.

A Call to Action: Don’t Let Food Go to Waste

As we revel in the success of the Feed Well Fridge Community Project, it’s essential for every community member to recognize their role in sustaining this initiative. The next time you find yourself with leftover food from an event or at home, consider how it can be repurposed to nourish those in need. Collaborate with local organizations like the Root Cellar to ensure that surplus food becomes a lifeline for someone facing food insecurity.

Nourishing the Community, One Meal at a Time

The Feed Well Fridge Community Project stands as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives. It not only addresses the environmental concern of food waste but also contributes to help alleviate food insecurity within Chatham County. It’s heartening to witness the positive impact that a simple idea, backed by community collaboration, can have on the well-being of our neighbors. Let’s continue to nourish our community, one meal at a time.

Watch on YouTube – Feed Well Fridge Community Project- Reducing Food Waste and Providing Meals for Those in Need

00:44 Feed Well Fridge Community Project aims to reduce food waste by repurposing leftover food into individual meals.

  • The program coordinates with grocery stores, farmers, and restaurants to collect food that would otherwise go to waste.
  • The collected food is stored in two fridges located in Siler City and CORA, and then repurposed into individual meals at the Root Celler.

01:14 The community project provides free meals to those in need with no questions asked.

  • Meals are repurposed and packaged into individual containers for easy pickup.
  • People can take as much food as they need and it can be reheated or eaten right away.

01:39 The Feed Well Fridge Community Project is helping to reduce food insecurity in Chatham.

  • The fridges in the community are being filled every day, sometimes even twice a day.
  • The food in the fridges is being depleted within an hour.

02:10 Community fridge provides ready-to-eat food

  • Frozen and refrigerated items are available in the fridge
  • Leftover food can be repurposed and donated by reaching out to Roots Pittsburgh

02:33 Contact Root Cellar Chapel Hill or Root Cellar Pittsboro through their Facebook page

  • Send a message through their Facebook page and Susan or Sara will respond.
  • 02:58 Chatham Ag Center is a spacious venue for hosting events.
  • The center was able to accommodate a large gathering for this event.
  • Leftover food from events and business lunches is no longer being wasted.

03:23 Reduce food waste and address food insecurity

  • Provide food to those in need