A community fridge in the grounds of a Halifax mosque is bringing the community together, providing free food and preventing food waste.
The Halifax Community Fridge was set up by volunteers in the grounds of the Central Jamia Mosque on Gibbet Street for people to come and take whatever food they need.
It has received huge support and donations from individuals and businesses, supermarkets, MP Holly Lynch and even a schoolboy who donated the pocket money he had saved up to buy a new games console.
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The initiative was launched at the start of the pandemic last year when Hassan Riaz and community volunteers came together to distribute food parcels.
They then created the Halifax Community Fridge in August, building a permanent home for the initiative in the grounds of the mosque.
Everyone is welcome to take whatever they need, no matter their background or economic status, and the fridge serves a regular group of about 40 families.
Mr Riaz said: “It’s a lifeline for people.
“It’s more than a fridge, it’s actually brought so many parts of the community together in the most impoverished part of Calderdale.”
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The fridge open seven days a week, including holidays like Christmas, New Year and Eid, because, as Mr Riaz said: “Food poverty exists every day of the year.”
Those who use the fridge come from all walks of life, including a 95-year-old lady who regularly visits.
The initiative also helped a local woman who told them that they ‘saved her life’ because the fridge donated food and money to pay for her electric bill.
Mr Riaz said that initially, some sceptics were doubtful that people would visit the fridge in the mosque.
He said: “To be honest with you, when we first launched it, we did have some people on social media saying ‘Oh, we’re not going to go there, why did they put it outside the mosque?’
“But now people are realising that this fridge has done such amazing work in this community.”
Now, the fridge has had the backing of many different businesses and individuals, including a schoolboy who donated the pocket money he had saved up to buy a games console.
Mr Riaz said: “A young guy from a local school saved up some pocket money and rather than spending this money, after saving up for a couple of months, on an XBox or the new PlayStation, he donated it to the fridge.
“Now he regularly visits the fridge and helps out on a Sunday at the community kitchen we run there.”
“We put a status out about that, and there were so many people around the UK who were offering him an XBox and a PlayStation.
“We got in touch with the family, and he said ‘no, look, I don’t want the XBox or the PlayStation,” and instead, he devoted his time and energy to the community kitchen.
The fridge is staffed by around 30 to 40 volunteers, including lots of teenagers and people as young as seven and ten years old.
The fridge also helps to reduce food waste, which they achieve by joining forces with local supermarkets.
It means that instead of supermarkets throwing out food when it’s past the sell-by-date, it is donated to the fridge to be distributed to those who need it, while it is still edible.
Mr Riaz estimates that through this, they have distributed 70,000 food items which goes to those who need it, rather than going to waste.
“Let bins go hungry, not children,” he added.
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