If you’ve seen a fridge sitting on the sidewalk lately, don’t assume it’s abandoned and up-for-grabs — that refurbished appliance may be part of a rapidly growing initiative called community fridges. Cleaned, monitored, and organized by locals, community fridges allow people to drop off extra food that they don’t need, so that others who do can make use of it. During a time when many are struggling to put food on their tables and food waste is growing as an environmental concern, community fridges are popping up all over the country and offering a grassroots solution to some of the problems surrounding food in America.
This concept isn’t new (having first been made popular in Europe), but the US is seeing a rise in interest as major cities like Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco join the movement. In NYC alone, there have been over 11 fridges installed recently in response to the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on communities of color.
What makes community fridges different from food banks? Not only do they help alleviate food insecurity, but they also help reduce food waste, which accounts for nearly 40% of the entire food supply in the US. Community fridges offer a convenient way to help both households and businesses reduce this waste. Food banks, in addition to being overwhelmed right now, can also be intimidating for those who seek anonymity due to immigration status or social stigma.
So what can you do to support community fridges? Other than starting one yourself, you can volunteer to help with their maintenance and organization, spread awareness of their existence to local businesses and residents, or donate food directly. Our founder and CEO, Ilana Kruger, has already dropped off Dripkit coffees to 5 fridges across NYC!Led by locals and created around the community, these fridges need your support to keep running. There are new locations appearing everyday, so whether you want to volunteer, donate, or just learn more about them, search for a community fridge in your city to be a part of this positive movement!