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Kelowna community fridge offers free food to those in need

Volunteers paint a shed that houses the Kelowna Community Fridge at the Kelowna Unitarian church.
Volunteers paint a shed that houses the Kelowna Community Fridge at the Kelowna Unitarian church.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/David Byres

Like those free libraries popping up in people's front yards, the Kelowna Community Fridge operates on a take something, leave something basis.

Roughly 25 people have been involved with the project that began in the fall of 2020 including Kelowna resident and team member Lauren St. Clair.

A GoFundMe was created, which raised more than $3,000 and eventually they found a free fridge and a place to house it.

READ MORE: Food banks in Central Okanagan see increased demand

“As soon as we found a location, things took off from there,” St. Clair said.

The fridge is open 24/7 and can be found at the Kelowna Unitarian church, at 1310 Bertram St., in a shed facing Cawston Avenue. The location also houses a pantry that contains dry goods and hygiene items, she said.

When they run low on a certain item, they’ll use money from the GoFundMe to stock up.

The Kelowna Community Fridge, located at the Kelowna Unitarian church, offers free food to residents.
The Kelowna Community Fridge, located at the Kelowna Unitarian church, offers free food to residents.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Lauren St. Clair

The fridge officially opened in April, and the first two days were fairly slow, but that’s since picked up.

A suggestion sheet attached to the fridge lets residents leave what they’d like to see. Popular requests have been bread, milk, cheese and eggs, she said.

READ MORE: UN says 155 million people faced severe hunger last year

“We’re just trying to call out to the community whenever things are missing or when we’re looking for more items,” St. Clair said.

Community fridges have been popping with the increase in food insecurity during the pandemic, St. Clair said, adding popularized community fridge projects were found in New York and Brooklyn, and have started in Calgary and Vancouver as well.

Volunteers check on it a few times a day to ensure items are in good condition, and to clean the fridge.

Donations including fruit and veggies, dry goods, sealed hygiene items, non-alcoholic beverages, pet food, frozen pizza, snacks, as well as bread, eggs and dairy products are all accepted as long as they haven’t reached their best-before dates.

The fridge does not accept raw meat or seafood, opened or half-eaten food, alcohol, dented cans or moldy produce.

They plan to keep operating the fridge as long as there's a need for it, St. Clair said.

For more information on the Kelowna Community Fridge, visit the Facebook and Instagram pages.

READ MORE: Feds detail $100 million pledged to fight food insecurity during COVID-19 pandemic


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