Mutual Aid – Friendly Fridge Keepers
“I am starving,” thought Nolan as he slowly walked down the street, disoriented and tired. He was vaguely aware that he hadn’t eaten in days, “Great, now I’m seeing things; there’s a refrigerator on the sidewalk.” He walked up to it and opened its door; inside was stuffed with food. Stunned, he reached for an apple and bit into it.
“You’re not dreaming, friend,”
Nolan turned around, “Man, I can’t believe this! This was right on time for me, but who is doing this and why?”
LJ handed him a canteen of water. “This is for you too. Here is the strap so you can carry it hands-free. Many people got together and decided that putting a refrigerator of fresh food on the street would probably be helpful, especially now with so many people out of work. Anyone is welcome to help themselves and take as much as they need.”
“I haven’t had a decent meal in I don’t know how long. I work an odd job here and there, but it’s just enough to pay for sharing a room with four others in a transient motel. We split what we have with each other, including food, but it isn’t healthy or nutritious, so we are chronically hungry and tired.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Hey, I’m LJ. Do you mind telling me what happened to you?”
Nolan looked away with the saddest expression. “I was an events coordinator. When the virus caused the shutdown, I lost my job and was forced out of my home because I could not pay the rent. So, what about you, LJ? Why are you here, and is this food really free?”
“Yes, it is free. I am an old-school activist, been involved in social justice issues for a while now. Back in the day, I volunteered in the Black Panthers Community Food Share movement that included a daily children’s breakfast and a free food give-away program. I loved the work and recently learned that as many as 54 million Americans need food aid, I started looking for another opportunity. I read how volunteers organized and put refrigerators on the street to make fresh food accessible, so I jumped on it because my wife and I grow a vegetable and fruit garden, and we always have an abundance. I started looking into this movement and learned that there are community refrigerators in Los Angeles, Oakland, in the five New York boroughs, New Jersey, Houston, Minneapolis and Miami. Soon there will fridges in San Francisco, and other cities. The volunteers who manage them also ask local restaurants and grocery stores for their extra food. And they clean and stock the refrigerators every day to ensure that the food is always fresh. The only requirement for donors is to not stock food in the fridge that is out of date, or something they wouldn’t eat themselves.”
“To know that so many realize how desperate people like me and especially families are, and they are willing to help gives me hope. There is no excuse for anyone being hungry. I have always believed that sharing food with family and neighbors was not charity; it’s about being human. How can I volunteer? I know how to clean and stock a fridge.”
“Nolan, my man, you are correct; there’s more than enough food for everyone. We must do a better job of controlling food waste and making sure that it is accessible, nutritious, and affordable. There’s always room for another volunteer so let’s get you signed up. After all, we are all in this together. Sharing is caring.”
Annie and LJ are a fictional couple introduced to the readers of the Healthy Healing Eats blog in January 2020. Their storyline promotes healthy
eating and earth-friendly practices.