Community fridges serve those in need in Philadelphia’s food deserts

Community fridges aren’t exactly new to Philadelphia, but you may be surprised at just how many there are across Philadelphia.

For everyone involved, it’s a point of community pride.

“The importance of being able to provide free food in a community that’s consistently overlooked by its own powers that be, it’s just absolutely unbelievable,” said Sonam and Sonia Parikh.

The fridges are a growing trend that started before the coronavirus pandemic, but they’ve expanded since then.

Basically, people are just putting refrigerators in various locations and just filling them up with food. If you need food, you just come buy and take it.

“We decided to do this because at the start of the pandemic we noticed that at least three or four local supermarkets just shut down for reconstruction and it just felt like a really badly timed move,” the Parikh’s added.

The Parikh’s own Mina’s World Café in West Philadelphia and started the community fridge outside.

You may be surprised to find that these refrigerators are in nearly every section of the city and many of the surrounding areas.

They’ve become a rallying point.

“Everybody really takes care of the fridge they really take it upon themselves to say, ‘Oh we wiped it down today’ or ‘I collected 100 grocery bags today for the fridge.’ It’s really surprising and endearing honestly,” the Parikh’s added.

Last week, FOX 29’s Bill Anderson toured many of the nearly 50 refrigerators in Philly.  The concept is really simple.  Somebody sets up a refrigerator and then people come together to keep it full for their neighbors in need.

“Folks who some weeks take everything from the fridge and other weeks empty their food stamps back into the fridge all of that is like such a huge part of what keeps the fridge going and why we know we have to keep filling it and making sure this is a forever resource,” the Parikh’s added.

It’s amazing to see places like Mina’s World and others across the region quite literally sell their products all day and then at the end of the day the same products that didn’t sell go right into the fridge. 

Perhaps it’s that commitment to each other more than just profit that fuels the success of the community fridge trend.

“One of my favorite part about working at Mina‘s World and organizing the fridge is that Mina‘s world becomes a zero-waste café and everything goes right back into the fridge which goes to somebody in this community and then we just start all over again the next day,” the Parikh’s said.

So the point is no matter where you are, if you can’t afford a meal check out your community fridge, and if you have more than you need then maybe fill up a community fridge.

Because together this trend unites us to help solve a very real but mostly avoidable problem… For Goodness Sake.

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