Addressing food insecurity… with a convivial community fridge
There are all sorts of ‘sharing shelves’ that you can find in public spaces nowadays – from the many free little free libraries around Vancouver, to community toy boxes, to neighbourhood herb gardens and baking ovens, to low-cost sharing initiatives like the Thingery.
Now here’s another take on the idea: a community fridge. Julia Gellman, a Masters student at UBC, explains: “the concept of a community fridge is that people leave what they want and take what they need . It’s a place to exchange food for free. Like a lending library, but more delicious.” Community Fridges have been around for a while, with several popping up in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver in response to the pandemic.
Over the past few weeks, Beth Dempster at Convivial Café (680 Leg-in-Boot Square) has been collaborating with a student group that includes Julia, fellow students Erica Ellis, Kelly Chessman and Kelly Davies, and CityStudio. The intent in piloting the Community Fridge is to help address food insecurity and food waste in the False Creek South neighbourhood. While Convivial is not a “public space” per se, Julia notes that “the fridge is available for anyone to come in and take/leave food, without purchasing anything.”
As Julia notes: “With 1 in 9 households in BC experiencing food insecurity, and 40% of food produced being wasted or lost – it’s clear that there is a gap in our local food system… The pandemic has demonstrated that countless individuals are also keen to support those in need. The Community Fridge project aims to enhance and amplify such mutual aid.”
The Community Fridge pilot project will run until Dec 25, and will engage community to support public access to food resources. Stop by and check it out!
For feedback or questions about the fridge, please contact Beth at Convivial Cafe (firstname.lastname@example.org). For feedback, questions or general resources on community fridges – or to start your own community fridge – check out this website or contact: email@example.com.
With files and photos courtesy of Julia Gellman.
Story updated on December 23, 2020.