Kelowna community fridge offers free food to those in need
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.
“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 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.
“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.
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