Community fridge

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A community fridge located in Brooklyn, New York

A community fridge is a refrigerator (colloquially "fridge") located in a public space. The fridges, sometimes called "freedges" are a type of mutual aid project which enables food to be shared within a community. Some community fridges also have an associated area for non-perishable food. Unlike traditional food pantries, anyone can put food in and take food out without limit, helping to remove the stigma from its use.[1] The main aim of community fridges is to reduce food insecurity, while also mitigating food waste. They enable people facing hardship to have easy access to fresh, nutritious food. Community fridges can also serve as social spaces that enable people to connect to their communities; Shelterforce magazine notes that "community fridges seem to have discovered a sweet spot in service delivery: close enough to feel the warmth of shared humanity, but far enough to avoid a sense of resentment or burden."[2]

History[edit]

A community fridge in a church alcove in Botley (UK) with bread box on top and blue box of nonperishables on the chair

The first community fridges were set up in Germany[3] in 2012 and Spain.[4]

In the UK, early community fridges were set up at Frome,[5] South Derbyshire,[6] Brixton (London),[7] and Botley (Oxford).[8] A national network of community fridges was set up in July 2017 by the environmental charity Hubbub UK, which offers a free support service to new projects.[9]

Community fridges are a rapidly-growing phenomenon, with fridges also recently set up in India,[10] New Zealand,[11] Israel,[12] the Netherlands,[13] and Canada (Community Fridges Toronto has seven fridges).[14]

Community fridges have recently made a wide emergence in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. In New York City, community fridges, nicknamed “Friendly Fridges,” were introduced in February 2020, the first one placed by an activist group, In Our Hearts. In Our Hearts has now set up at least 14 fridges around New York City.[1]

Using New York City as a model, community fridges have popped up in cities across the U.S. including Los Angeles,[15] Philadelphia,[16] Chicago,[17] Atlanta,[18] and more. In the Greater Boston Area, the first community fridge was started in Jamaica Plain in September 2020.[19] Soon after, another fridge emerged in the neighborhood of Dorchester, Boston's largest neighborhood. Other fridges in the neighborhoods of Allston and Roslindale, as well as the cities of Somerville and Cambridge, are in the process of development.[20]

Issues[edit]

Issues surrounding community fridges include ensuring that they are kept clean, ensuring that the food is safe, and making sure that they are not abused (e.g. that nobody profits from the food). For instance, in the UK, setting up a community fridge requires a rota of volunteers to clean the fridge and check the food; public liability insurance; the support of the local authority environmental health officer; and, evidently, a fridge and associated waste bins.[21] Several community fridges in Germany were threatened with closure due to health concerns.[22]

Community fridges are also sometimes criticized for only fulfilling immediate need and not providing a systemic solution to food insecurity.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rosa, Amanda; Keith, Stephanie (8 July 2020). "See That Fridge on the Sidewalk? It's Full of Free Food". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Glenn, Ezra Haber (2021-02-24). "Community Fridges Provide Vital and Visible Relief in the War on Hunger". Shelterforce. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  3. ^ http://www.foodsharing.de
  4. ^ Kassam, Ashifa (25 June 2015). "The solidarity fridge: Spanish town's cool way to cut food waste" – via The Guardian.
  5. ^ "Community Fridge Frome - Edventure : Frome".
  6. ^ "Swadlincote's Community Fridge". 24 October 2016.
  7. ^ "A community fridge has opened in London to make sure food isn't going to waste". 16 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Botley community fridge". 30 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Community Fridge Network to bring social value to food waste fight".
  10. ^ "This community fridge in Versova makes sure no one goes hungry - Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". 23 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Everything you need to know about Auckland's Community Fridge". 23 November 2016.
  12. ^ "Israel's "The Fridge" Facebook page".
  13. ^ Engbers, Pascal (2020-10-29). "Jumbo opent solidaire koelkast tegen probleem van stijgende armoede". Adformatie (in Dutch). Retrieved 2020-11-30.
  14. ^ Kwong, Evelyn (2021-03-07). "'Take what you need, leave what you can': How a Toronto network is transforming the way we think about food insecurity". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  15. ^ James, Julissa (17 July 2020). "Community fridges show up in L.A. neighborhoods to feed those in need". LA Times.
  16. ^ "Woman Creates Philly's First Community Fridge to Help Those in Need Amid Pandemic". NBC10 Philadelphia.
  17. ^ Johnson, Christen A. "Community refrigerators throughout Chicago offer free, healthy food". chicagotribune.com.
  18. ^ Zauner, Brooke (28 August 2020). "Atlanta entrepreneur battles food insecurity with community fridges". FOX 5 Atlanta.
  19. ^ "Take What You Need, Leave What You Can At A Community Fridge In Boston". www.wbur.org. 17 September 2020.
  20. ^ Nanos, Janelle (25 September 2020). "To combat hunger, neighbors are stocking community fridges on Boston's streets - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com.
  21. ^ "Botley community fridge -". foodforcharities.wordpress.com.
  22. ^ "Berlin's Public Refrigerators Were Just Declared a Health Hazard".
  23. ^ "Freedge Movement: Grassroots Efforts Fight Food Insecurity With Free Refrigerators". NPR.org. 29 September 2020.