A person in a van helping to redistribute food

Community fridges: Empty Kitchens Full Hearts

03 Oct 23

Empty Kitchens Full Hearts in Edinburgh turns surplus food into healthy meals for those who need them. With the help of a community fridge, they can reduce food waste and support the community.

Let's hear from Emily Gifford, the Fundraising Manager at Empty Kitchens Full Hearts, about what they do.

What is the mission for Empty Kitchens Full Hearts?

"We were set up by a group of volunteers, most of whom were chefs or in the hospitality industry, who knew they had skills and experience that could be used to help people. They got Empty Kitchens Full Hearts up and running. 

"The core of what we do now is still the same as it was then. We take surplus food, cook it on site, and turn it into meals that are predominantly delivered to people's homes but also to collection hubs in various areas of the city, as well as to community meals and after-school programmes. Our goal is to make use of food that would otherwise go to waste to help people who are hungry."

banner showing over 18,000 total meals served by Edinburgh Kitchens

Where does the food you receive come from?

"The vast majority of our food comes through FareShare, who collect surplus food at various points in the supply chain and redistribute it to ogranisations like ours. 

"Lots of it comes from the relationship we have with networks of bakeries and other organisations who provide bread and snacks. We also have connections with farms in the city and beyond and get surplus food and vegetables from there too. 

"Occasionally people get in touch to let us know they have food left over and, because of the scale we're operating at and, the volume of food we're cooking on a daily basis we're quite often in a position to take things that maybe others couldn't."

What does that mean to the people you serve/ receive the meals?

"We use food as a starting point to provide more all-encompassing support. We make initial contact by providing healthy and delicious meals, then our team works to understand more about the other challenges people might be facing and either support them directly or help them access other services.

"We started as a pandemic response. We met an immediate need for people who were hungry and weren't able to get out and about - and we were able to do that by delivering to their door. 

"What we're finding now is that we are no longer in a pandemic, but we are moving from one crisis to another. We are now supporting people who are experiencing the cost-of-living crisis, so it's a valuable support for people who are already living in circumstances that are challenging."

"We are a community of people from Edinburgh that care about our neighbours, and we are here to provide support to them in any way that we can." - Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts