Big Zuu on the benefits of community fridges: ‘Food brings us together. It gives us scope to help each other’ – The Guardian
“I’ve eaten Afghan food before,” says Big Zuu, who presents Big Zuu’s Big Eats on Dave, “But today I’ve learned exactly how these women cook their stews with spices, and how they put a certain type of berry and currant in their rice. It reminded me that I’d never get that experience online – you might see a TikTok video or something, but it’s not the same as being shown in person by an auntie who’s been cooking it for 20 years who says ‘and this is how I make the rice’.”
The rapper and TV cook has spent the morning at the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) in Feltham, west London, being shown how to cook the tastiest, authentic Afghan cuisine – and now it’s finally time to sit down and eat.
The association – which helps support refugees and asylum seekers – is one of many places to benefit from a wide-reaching Community Fridge Network, which received a massive boost when Co-op gave its support to the environmental charity Hubbub. Local businesses drop off surplus food (fresh food that would otherwise be thrown away), and members of the public can visit the fridge and take this food home for free, without being questioned about eligibility or referral. The scheme brings communities together and gives people the chance to learn new skills such as helping household budgets go further.
But as Zuu is finding out today, helping solve food waste isn’t where the project ends. Alongside picking up cooking tips – expect these to make an appearance on new recipes on his socials soon – he has seen first-hand all the community work that the ACAA volunteers carry out on site; from offering English lessons and professional support and guidance, to running sports clubs. Once all 250 new venues being funded by the partnership between Co-op and Hubbub are up and running, there will be 500 in the UK that are part of the Community Fridge Network – and they’ll save an estimated 34m meals from going to waste each year.
“The beautiful thing about communities,” says Zuu, “is that food brings us all together. Our communities are based on the people, and if you give the people a base to come together and work together and be involved in each other’s lives, it gives us so much scope to become better …….