Volunteers for The Love Fridge Chicago are determined to place fully-loaded fridges to diminish food waste and empower communities.
On July 8, the Love Fridge Chicago posted an inquiry to their Instagram page requesting donated refrigerators. In just three weeks, they acquired 5 working refrigerators and established one in Little Village on the Southwest Side, stocked with groceries for residents without.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, many Chicagoans have shown their true colors by stepping up and helping their neighbors in need. Whether it was the city donating over $30 K to Claudio Velez aka Chicago’s Tamale Guy after Velez was forced to cease his business operations, a seventh grader learning how to sew to create hundreds of masks for essential workers, or artists turning vacant west side buildings into free grocery stores, the Windy City continues to bring out the excellence in many.
In part inspired by a community refrigerator that popped up in New York, the Love Fridge has called upon volunteers to help acquire and establish community fridges for communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
“The Love Fridge is a collective that practices mutual aid grounded in food. We are powered by kindness, generosity, and most importantly, love. We are your neighbors, looking out for our community,” the group wrote on its website. “We have the common belief that being able to feed yourself is not a privilege, but a right. With food insecurity at an all-time high, keeping our communities fed right now is more important than ever.”
There are now two fridges, one in Little Village and another, painted in vibrant hues with graffitied with phrases: “comida gratis,” “free food,” “hambre?” and “love,” in Bridgeport at Marz Community Brewing. The model is similar to Free Little Libraries and other community pantries that have popped up throughout the country: anyone can take from the fridge, and for those that have ample means, can donate.
The grassroots collective is made up of over 90 volunteer members from Chicago who organize and manage the fridges up to twice a week to ensure that they are stocked and in running condition. Businesses and other organizations have continued to support their efforts with food, fridges, power, and more.
On August 6, the collective is partnering with Lily’s Lemonade stand with all proceeds going to the Love Fridge on the corner of N. Hayne Avenue and W Lee Place in the Ukrainian Village.
For an updated map of the collective’s fridges, visit here.
[Featured image: @thelovefridgechicago]