A humble but untiring volunteer has been working to reduce food waste and provide the public with access to free food without discrimination.

Diana Korchien has been named the East London Guardian’s Volunteer of the Year of 2020 for her admirable work with the Leytonstone Community Fridge.

Working as project lead for initiative, which launched in 2018, she has been reducing food waste by collecting donations from charities, food businesses and individuals, and providing the community with access to food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

“Unlike a food bank, the main aim here is to reduce food waste. While food banks never offer ambient food that is past its Best Before date, the Fridge does”, Diana explained.

“It reduces food waste, providing users with good quality surplus food which would otherwise have been discarded.

“The range of foods is culturally wide, and includes baked goods, ambient, fresh produce, drinks and chilled food including meat, dairy, vegetarian and vegan. There is no charge for the food, although donations are always welcome.”

Over the course of the coronavirus lockdown the fridge was shut from March 23 – July 17, however, the team were able to organise twice-weekly food parcel deliveries to 40 addresses in Leyton, Leytonstone and Wanstead.

“After reopening, we put very strict safety procedures in place, but we are also lucky to be based outdoors”, Diana added.

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The community fridge outside Leytonstone Methodist Church in Leytonstone High Road. Photo: © Andres Pachon

The fridge is part of the Hubbub Community Fridge Network – with more than a hundred community fridges across the UK.

Diana says she is pleased with her award, but is unwilling to take all the credit.

She said: “As a very hardworking coordinator, I was hugely grateful to receive the East London Guardian’s Volunteer of the Year Award, but I’d like to flag up that the project’s undoubted success rests on the shoulders of a great team of volunteers.

“It needs to be noted that I’m merely the conductor, not the orchestra. Without a well-tuned and passionate orchestra, a conductor is nothing!”

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Diana with her team of volunteers. Photo: © Andres Pachon

The fridge, which is situated outside the Leytonstone Methodist Church, is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 12 noon until the food runs out.

The team are looking for new volunteers, both drivers and stall workers. If you are interested, contact: info@transitionleytonstone.org.uk

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