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Reducing food insecurity, building community and winning an award

When she set up the Community Fridge in St John’s Egham, Rima Chai wasn’t thinking about winning awards and notoriety. Rather, she didn’t want to lead the work, but her faith ultimately led her to step out and lead the church in tackling food insecurity.

On 21 February 2024, Rima was presented the Environment and Sustainability Award in the 2024 Runnymede Civic Awards. She was nominated by people in the local community who felt she deserved wider recognition for what she does.

Rima led the set-up of the community fridge in 2022 and continues to lead the work. It is open to everyone, regardless of means and is not a food bank or a solution to food poverty but encourages people to live more sustainably. 

Rima shared how the work fits in with the mission of the church: “Our eco-church mission inspired us to launch a Community Fridge. It’s all about reducing food waste. While I initially did not want to lead the community fridge, faith ultimately led me in this direction. This initiative not only combats food insecurity but also fosters a strong sense of community spirit.

“With prayers from St John's guiding us and the enthusiastic community support, we've established the area's largest Community Fridge and it continues to grow. We have lots of people join us each week who are excited to reduce food waste and serve the community.

“We pray that more churches develop this initiative to reduce food from being wasted.”

In 2023 the community fridge prevented 12,252 kg of food from being wasted, with more than 70 people accessing the fridge each Saturday. Through community events and cafes, the community fridge has served around 6300 people meals.

Users, volunteers and donors share their experiences in this video

In the first two months of 2024, the Community Fridge has already collected 4,437 kg of food, provided 809 individuals with a bag of food, 188 people with soup, and 1090 community meals. The Community Fridge is living out John 6:12: When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

Woman in a red apron tends to a plant in a pot Multiple crates of food on top of a table surrounded by a banner reading Welcome to our Community Fridge Man and his son wearing red aprons stood behind a chalk written sign reading St John's Community Fridge


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