CALGARY – They have turned up in other cities like Toronto, New York City, and Los Angeles. Now a group of friends have brought the idea of a community refrigerator to Calgary that will give those in need access to free, fresh and healthy food at all times.
“I think we are all ready to take care of each other on a higher level than before,” said Megan Kirk, one of the co-founders of the pilot.
The first communal refrigerator at 902 Center Street N is well stocked and open.
“Fresh produce and things with an expiration date,” said Kirk. “No meat at the moment just because it’s easier to handle.
“We’ll have lots of dry supplies, hopefully diapers, tampons, that sort of thing.”
Those behind the initiative describe it as a mutual aid project aimed at eradicating food inequality in Calgary.
“I’m always a huge fan of civic participation and getting out and meeting and helping your neighbors,” said co-founder Alice Lam. “During the pandemic, we saw the gap between people’s ability to stretch their incomes widening.”
Lam says the initiative is neighbor to neighbor and hopes that one day the recipients will be able to give something back.
“There are an abundance of community gardens with lots of fresh produce. There are lots of people farming, lots of people wanting to give back, so this just seemed like a great way to bring those resources together.”
The organizers hope that people who do not want access to traditional help will feel comfortable when they take it out of the refrigerator.
“Maybe there is only one void and we can fill it here,” said co-founder Sasha Lavoie. “Maybe people can come and contribute when they normally can’t. Maybe they have to grab something anonymously in the middle of the night and don’t want to register. Maybe they can’t register because they don’t qualify.” “”
The location was chosen because it is close to where the organizers live or have connections so it can be maintained, the initiative can work with members of the community and inspire others.
“Hopefully it will help us build other communities,” said Kirk. “We want people to do it in their own garden, but if we can help them with design, accessories or support, we want to do that.”
The organizers say they worked with Alberta Health Services to implement the correct security protocols.
A crowdfunding campaign for the initiative has already tripled its original goal of $ 5,000. Donations help with costs including maintenance, food, cleaning supplies, and shed building materials for the winter.
“We just want to prove it can work in Calgary,” said Lam. “It’s a resilient city with a huge volunteer base, super compassionate, super generous, so we think if it can happen anywhere, Calgary is where it can really take off.”
Updates to the project will be posted on the Calgary Community Fridge’s Instagram account.