Big Zuu, who serves Big Zuu’s Big Eats on Dave, says, “I’ve eaten Afghani food before, but today I learned exactly how these women cook stews with spices, and how to put a certain type of berries and currants in rice. It reminded me that I wouldn’t have This experience is never online – you might watch a video on TikTok or something, but it’s different from being shown in person by an aunt who has been cooking for 20 years and says “And this is How do I make rice?
The rapper and TV chef spent the morning at the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) in Feltham, west London, showing how to cook authentic Afghan delicacies – and now it’s time to sit down and eat.
The association — which helps support refugees and asylum seekers — is one of many places benefiting from an extensive community refrigerator network, which received a boost when Co-op lent its support to the environmental charity Hubbub. Local businesses drop off surplus food (fresh food that would have been discarded), and members of the public can visit the fridge and take that food home for free, without being questioned about eligibility or attribution. The scheme brings communities together and gives people the opportunity to learn new skills such as helping family budgets move forward.
But as Zuu finds out today, helping solve food waste isn’t where the project ends. Along with the cooking tips – expect new recipes to appear on social media soon – he’s seen first-hand all the community work that ACAA volunteers are doing on site; From providing English language lessons and career support and guidance to managing sports clubs. Once the 250 new places funded through the partnership between Co-op and Hubbub are up and running, there will be 500 sites in the UK that are part of the Community Fridge Network – and they will save an estimated 34 million meals from waste each year.
Says Zuu, “The beautiful thing about societies is that food brings us all together. Our societies depend on people, and if you give people a rule to come together and work together and participate in each other’s lives, it gives us a lot of room to become better and help each other.”
The opportunity to give back to the community is what has drawn ACAA volunteers Farah Ashraf, a graphic design intern, and Alice Plitso, who helps coach the Afghan and Muslim girls’ soccer team.
Creating posts and content on social media for the association, Ashraf had never heard of the idea of communal refrigerators, but soon noticed the benefits: “Our refrigerators are used on a daily basis. We have a lot of people coming in, especially those who need advice and support. Everyone is welcome to come and sit down. Together for lunch. It’s a great way for people to socialize, meet new people and feel more comfortable. I was really amazed at how beneficial it is to society.”
Hubbub’s co-financing is made possible by Co-op members due to the success of the retailer’s membership scheme. Through the scheme, 2p of every pound members spend on co-branded products is shared between the Co-op’s Community Partnership Fund and the local community fund. The goal of both funds is to provide support to local communities to help bring people together and build resilience.
Bletsoe, who has applied for funding to create the community refrigerator, says the scheme has become a launching pad for many other activities. “We decided to apply for funding so we can expand the setup we’ve already started here,” she says, explaining that they share food each week with people who visit activities like ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes and plan to open the scheme to everyone.
“We do cooking classes, and a women’s support group do gardening classes. We are now thinking that they can grow herbs and that would link well to the community fridge. We had a great opportunity to expand and advertise what we do in the wider area .”
Ashraf adds: “This project helps bring together people from communities and cultures who do not usually have the means to interact. As a result, I’ve learned how people can have a way to identify, empathize, and support each other’s personal circumstances.”
In the post-pandemic period, much has been said about the idea of ”building back better” and perhaps through grassroots schemes such as the Community Refrigerator Fund this could start to happen. Since his day at the heart of the operation, Zuu says, there is a high spirits going around these local groups. “The energy in the room was crazy, it was great to see.
“I kept thinking that this was going to be something in the future that they would look at and say, ‘Look at what we started, look at what we were a part of,’ and that’s empowering. It’s also just for beginners, because when it builds up, you never know where it might be. Lead “.
To find a refrigerator near you and how you can do it Community Refrigerator Support Network, visit Coop.co.uk
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