Food is a Universal Right.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been volunteering with my local community center to gather volunteers of all ages to cook and pack meals for our community fridge. If you live in New York you might notice random fridges on street corners which folks are welcome to donate or take food from. My local fridge is coming up on 2 years of providing free meals to the neighborhood. The success of this fridge didn’t happen overnight. It actually was frowned upon and complained about by local residents when it was first initiated.
People originally protested the fridge citing that no one who lives in our little affluent bubble needs the food and that it will just attract transient individuals. The thing about our fridge is that food is and should always be for everyone. There should never be a mentality of this is for us and that is for them around food. If you are hungry and free food is available then you should be able to partake. Our community fridge is frequented by senior citizens, bus drivers on their short lunch breaks, and children on their way to afterschool activities. There are people who are taking the food because they are food insecure and that’s exactly what we’re here for.
The fridge isn’t perfect and it’s definitely not a solution to our current hunger issues, but it helps folks when they need it most. One of the best things to come out of this project is the open dialogue that we have with volunteers and neighbors. Kids who volunteer to help always ask if you need to be homeless to take from the fridge. We honestly love this question because it allows us to frame what food insecurity and food sovereignty actually look like. According to Feeding America, 1 in 10 New Yorkers face hunger and 1 in 7 children face hunger. That means some of the children I’ve taught as a culinary educator were facing hunger and some of my own neighbors are possibly in need of food assistance.
I’m sure we’re all feeling the pinch and squeeze of our wallets during these times of inflation, so imagine those who are barely scrimping by - the squeeze is just that much tighter.
I’ll End on a Good Note.
So far we’ve packed over 200 meals in just the few times that I’ve gone to help. My heart feels so full knowing someone will have a delicious, nutritious, homemade meal to eat after we’ve filled the fridge with everything we’ve made. If you’re looking to do some volunteering this Spring check out Feeding America’s website. They can connect you to opportunities at Food Banks in your area.
Some Extra Food For Thought.
Food Prices Are Not the Only Obstacle to Achieving Food Security: Root Causes Include Systemic Barriers (The Conversation)
Food Security Isn’t Being Tracked, According To Scientists. Here’s Why That’s A Huge Issue (Daily Caller)
Debts for Unpaid School Meals Are Rising and Families Say They Are Left ‘Scrambling and Confused’ After Pandemic-Era Free School Lunch Program Ended (Insider)
Cook. Eat. Repeat. Do Good.
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so much respect!! I've been doing something similar while in portland, or this month - biking extra end-of-day food box supplies from food pantries and dispersing into active free fridges. it's something small that can go a long way and is open 24/7 for anyone who needs it.
What a great idea!!