National Volunteers' Week: Mollie sees food waste in a whole new light

This week is National Volunteers' Week (June 1-7) and we've been giving some much deserved limelight to Oxfordshire's volunteers - including Mollie from Witney.

We can often adopt new habits or practices without trying when we get involved in something different, and by volunteering with the Witney Community Fridge Mollie has seen food waste in a whole new light

She said: "I've learned a lot about food waste in the last few months and am now making a conscious effort to reduce what we throw away."

In the UK we throw away 10.2million tonnes of food waste each year, which is why initiatives, such as the Witney Community Fridge, are key for repurposing surplus food.

Mollie added: "‘Through my work I had visited SOFEA in Dicot who are a charity that rescues and re-distributes food to families in need and was overwhelmed by the levels of food that got thrown away. I had been looking to volunteer somewhere local and saw on Facebook that the Community Fridge needed volunteers, so after a few messages with one of the leaders of the project, I was signed up – it was that easy."

Fitting in volunteering around other commitments can be difficult to do, and for some this is next to impossible, but for Mollie, a couple of hours a week has been fairly straightforward to fit in. She explained: "I would pick up food from the Co-op on a Friday morning before heading to work in Oxford. It meant getting up earlier and being more organised but it fitted into my life easily."

With changes in demand due to coronavirus, Mollie now volunteers on a Saturday morning as there are more collections, which leaves some people slightly confused by her apparent shopping choices ‘

Mollie said: "People are definitely interested in us and wondering why I have three trollies full of bread and bananas! But the staff in the supermarkets are used to us now, and we’ve seen an increase in users of the fridge."

The social element through this volunteering opportunity is just as rewarding for Mollie as the redistribution of surplus food

She concluded: "I get really passionate as I see so much food being wasted that is of good quality and perfectly fine, despite being a little past its best, so I enjoy educating people about the fridge and food waste. I also like having fellow volunteers to keep in touch with."

For more information about the Witney Community Fridge, please visit their Facebook page.