Community Fridges: What They Are and How to Find Them
Do you have a community fridge near you?
Hunger knows no zip code--food insecurity is found in every community. One of the best ways to tackle it, then, is through community-based resources, like community fridges.
What is a community fridge?
- Community fridges are a free, anonymous source of food with 24/7 accessibility. Anyone can drop off food that they don’t want, or would otherwise throw away, for another person in the community to enjoy. Think of it as crowd-funding a full fridge.
- Most community fridges welcome nonperishable goods, snacks, boxed meals, bottled water, juice, bread, fresh produce, and more.
- Leftovers and expiring foods are usually not welcomed.
- Some fridges, however, do accept prepared meals for houseless community members--check your local fridge’s guidelines before dropping off your favorite dish.
- Contributions are not limited to food, miscellaneous household items are frequently donated.
- The community fills the fridge through drop-off donations and digital collections.
- People use platforms like Venmo, CashApp, and GoFundMe to donate to the community fridge.
- Participants also partner with supermarkets, local businesses, and food assistance organizations to save food that would otherwise be discarded.
- Fridges in each location need a host, or a building to supply power to the appliance. These hosts are usually connected to the community, like a community center, a place of worship, or local business.
The popularity of community fridges
- The proliferation of community fridges is a grassroots reaction to the food insecurity crisis in America.
- They promote equal access to food through community-based donations, especially in neighborhoods where food assistance is difficult to receive. Food banks are not always close by, so community fridges offer a transportation-free option.
- Community fridges also grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic as they didn’t (and don’t) require people to congregate for meals. The fridges continue to provide assistance to those ineligible for COVID-19 relief, like undocumented residents and families.
- Government policies towards fridges vary across the country. Traditionally, they are treated as common property, governed by community rules, and left alone by health inspectors.
- Sometimes, health authorities do not accept community fridges and the fridge host can face legal battles. Learn more about community fridges’ legal guide here.
How to find a community fridge near you
- Freedge is an organization with a worldwide network of community fridges. Freedge’s website features a map and database that can pinpoint community fridges over the globe. Can’t find a fridge near you? Fridge also offers resources on how to start your own community fridge.
- Change X has a similar map and database to find a fridge in your neighborhood.
- Here are available databases to find a community fridge in major American cities:
- Los Angeles
- New York City
Do you have a community fridge near you?
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..not yet, but now I am working on it. Thanks for the news.