Community fridges are thriving in the age of Covid

In June, we published a story about the emergence of community fridges around New York City. The premise is simple: community members store food in a publicly-accessible fridge, and anyone can come and take what they want and leave what they don’t.

The people who came up with this grassroots idea in Brooklyn said they’ve only had positive interactions with the community fridges, which probably explains why more of these fridges have been popping up across the US and Canada. Julian Bentivegna, a chef, and owner of Ten Restaurant on Toronto’s College Street started a community fridge this year after getting the green light from his landlord. 

“It’s been great to see just how much people care. When we first got started, I was worried we were going to have too many donations and not enough people taking from the fridges but … it’s been a really nice balance of the two. We don’t police the fridges at all. We just let people take what they need and leave what they don’t.”

In Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, Pam Tietze set up the Friendly Fridge. At first, people were leery about it, wondering who would be using the fridge, but it has become a great success, with nearby restaurants using it as a spot to distribute free food. There are sometimes trays of prepared food, such as turkey burgers, and buckets of vegetarian chili, all free for the taking.

The world’s far from perfect, and there have been hard curveballs thrown in 2020 so far, but it’s good to know that communities are still rallying to help in the small ways they can. You can look for a community fridge in your own city by searching on, Googling it, or searching the hashtag “community fridge” on social media – then make a donation.

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