• Tom

Long Live the Ryedale Free Fridge initiative by Tom Naylor-Leyland

This month I would like to share with you a really good news story. Having recently celebrated its 1st anniversary the Ryedale Free Fridge is something for Malton to be very proud of - in this writers view. Set up by Lindsay Wrightson and her very able team, ‘The Ryedale Free Fridge’ offers free food to anyone. Yes that’s correct the food is completely free! As a modern example of sustainability and reducing food waste it is a great success story for the town and I believe the first of its kind in Yorkshire. It also fits perfectly into the wider project of making Malton the UK’s first market town with a Circular Economy.

Photo credit: Frank Dwyer

And where better for the region’s first free fridge than in Malton where of course we take food seriously. Lindsay was keen to point out that while the whole town in engaged in good food, the free fridge is about caring what happens to the food and not being cavalier about what happens to that food at the end of its journey. The food is still perfectly edible but for a variety of reasons cannot be sold. That food used to go to landfill, now it goes to the free fridge. In the past year the free fridge has saved over 10 tonnes of fresh food from going to landfill.


“It’s not about people being referred or having to be a charity case” Lindsay says, “It’s for absolutely anyone who would like to help stop food waste and if you can afford to pay a small donation for that food then so much the better! It’s a clever thing because now the donations cover the free teas and coffees there too”.


Lindsay is also keen to point out that this good cause sits comfortably within the handsome surroundings of the old Wesleyan chapel and importantly is very much suited to the original Wesleyan roots of its founders. She is keen to point out how generous they have been.

Through the Ryedale Free Fridge the Wesleyans now have a community of people popping in to use its services. Friendships have been made and many of those who have used the free fridge have become volunteers too. So successful has the creation of this new community around the fridge become that the organisers and chapel are planning further music and crafts events to keep the momentum building.


So I wonder, what’s on offer? As it turns out wonderful looking fresh fruit and veg from both businesses and allotments. Baked goods, which look very tempting indeed, goods from supermarkets and much more. Some beautiful mushrooms catch my eye.

It seems to me to be a perfect virtuous circle of promoting healthy eating, reducing food waste and at the same time creating a very important community hub. The volunteers can also train for a food hygiene qualification, which has proved useful in future job prospects.


“Above all, it works” Lindsay adds “No business feels that they’ve felt any negative impacts from donating the food and in fact, as word has spread, it has actually been very good promotion for them.”


And as a part of the Malton food scene I was very impressed with this new initiative. Warm hearted, delicious and with bucket loads of common sense. Long live the Ryedale Free Fridge!


The Ryedale Free Fridge in Malton is open from 10am to 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. A second free fridge now operates at Winston Court in Norton on Tuesdays and Fridays.


For more information, please see the following link: https://www.visitmalton.com/ryedale-free-fridge



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