South Florida Welcomes Community Fridge


Isabel Lopez

Photo courtesy of Leo Verona (@loathinginmiami on Instagram).

Isabel Lopez, Multimedia Photo Editor

At a time when a pandemic is hitting low income communities especially hard, these underserved communities  face even larger risks of food shortage; to combat these issues the Buddy System Miami introduced the Community Fridge to South Florida. 

The Community Fridge is a project in which refrigerators are placed in public spaces and open for those at risk of food insecurity. According to the United States Census Bureau, one in six South Florida families struggle with food insecurity. This project recognizes the importance of food security and considers it a right, not a privilege. By helping to bring an end to starvation in South Florida communities, helpers reload these refrigerators two to three times a day. 

On Aug. 20, 2020,  the first community refrigerator was installed in Overtown, with team leaders Fania Celestin, Vanessa Gomez, Kelly Mayorga and Jessica Gutiérrez-Castillo. On Sept. 10, 2020, volunteers established a second refrigerator in Richmond Heights. With these accomplishments comes a process; to find a location, volunteers lookout for businesses that agree in forming a community fridge. Next, the project tries to find a fridge that may be sold from a discount or someone who can donate a fridge. Lastly, Community Fridge asks for donations and volunteers in order to maintain the refrigerator. Buddy System aims to launch 20 community refrigerators all over Miami before the end of the year. 

For those who want to volunteer, Community Fridge encourages people to come and help restock and clean weekly. Some favored food donations include fresh fruits, fresh produce, plant based milk, canned food, unopened frozen food and dairy or meat with an expiration date at least five days away. However, the project also accepts financial donations to keep the fridge going. 

“I feel like this Community Fridge empowers the community to not only help themselves and it be sustainable by the Community helping the community, but also empowering people that if there’s an issue at hand that we can work together to solve it,” Community organizer and co-founder of Buddy System MIA Jessica Gutiérrez-Castillo said.

As Community Fridge joins forces with Buddy System, some goals of their project include fighting against food shortage and minimizing the amount of food waste. Some organizations such as Good Samaritan Meals and Trader Joes drop off food for Community Fridge, helping those in need. 

For more information and ways to get involved , click here.