Where to find community refrigerators in Boston
The past year has seen an increase in food insecurity nationwide, as the pandemic devastated already underserved communities. In response, a type of mutual aid has emerged in neighborhoods everywhere: community refrigerators.
These outdoor refrigerators, usually in a shed with shelves, are always open and always stocked with donations of refrigerated and pantry food (and sometimes household items).
Refrigerators across the country operate under the motto “take what you need, leave what you can”.
Arielle Goldhaber, organizer of Roslindale Community Fridge, explains that community refrigerators do not use a charitable model, but rather a caring model – one in which neighbors constantly help each other.
“The idea of sharing, not giving, changes the timeline of access to food and resources,” Goldhaber explained. “Sharing is ‘constant’, sharing is ‘where possible’, sharing is ‘it shouldn’t be wasted’, sharing is ‘someone else could use it’.”
The most valuable facet of community refrigerators is their accessibility, says Laura Graham of South End Fridge. “They are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” she said. “No ID is needed, unlike most pantries. “
Local community refrigerators are run entirely by volunteers and tackle the problem of food waste and food insecurity. Most importantly, they aim to be comfortable spaces that anyone can visit.
“More than just food and supplies, we want to offer respect, empowerment and flexibility when life goes,” said Goldhaber. “We are not looking to ‘other’ our neighbors who visit the refrigerator. “
Below are a handful of community fridges in Boston.
For just over a year, the Roslindale Community Refrigerator has been in the parking lot at Roslindale Market. They accept volunteer registrations through their Instagram pages, and they also have a physical stall at the Roslindale Farmers Market. They are currently holding their second annual turkey drive, details of which can be found on their Instagram. They accept food and cash donations, but no raw meat, seafood, or home-cooked meals.
South end refrigerator
549 Columbus Ave., Boston
As of March 2021, the South End refrigerator has been operating from Columbus Avenue in front of Make Shift Boston. The refrigerator is monitored by volunteers three times a day, and they accept raw meat and home-cooked meals, if the meat is kept in the freezer and meals are labeled with ingredients and expiration dates.
Earthy Boston – Fenway Refrigerator
506 Park Drive, Boston
For almost exactly a year, Earthy Boston operated at Fenway past Mei Mei Dumplings on Park Drive. Organized by @earthyari, the refrigerator has an adjacent pantry and does not accept raw meat or homemade foods, although they do accommodate meals prepared by licensed kitchens and clearly labeled.
Interfaith symphonic fridge
70 St. Stephen St., Boston
Northeastern University Mutual Aid organized the Symphony Refrigerator this year with the help of several spiritual organizations on campus, such as Northeastern Hillel, Israel Campus Roundtable, and the Catholic Center at Northeastern University. They do not accept meat, seafood or alcohol, while they do accept clearly labeled meals offered by restaurants.
Jamaica Plain Community Refrigerator
672 Center St., Jamaica Plain
The Jamaica Plain Community Refrigerator was one of the founding refrigerators in the Boston area, inspired by similar refrigerators in other parts of the country that arose in response to the pandemic in the spring of 2020. They are one of five Boston refrigerators partnered with Katsiroubas Produce, a Hyde Park-based supplier, to receive weekly product deliveries.
Mattapan Community Refrigerator
1290 Blue Hill Avenue, Boston
Opened last winter, the Mattapan refrigerator is located near the Juice Up Café on Blue Hill Avenue, which provides electricity to the refrigerator. Besides standard food products, they accommodate other products like toiletries and household items.
Somerville Community Refrigerator (Winter Hill and Union Square)
35, rue Prospect and 36, rue Sewall, Somerville
Somerville has two refrigerators, one in Winter Hill on Sewall Street and one in Union Square on Prospect Street. Along with food, pantry, and toiletries, fridges welcome donations through Givebutter, the link of which can be found on their Instagram.
Fridge in the Square – Harvard Square
45 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge
Harvard’s Fridge in the Square, originally across from the Sinclair, was moved over the summer to a location on Mount Auburn Street, now housed in a newly constructed shed / pantry. They prefer donated pantry items like beans and bread, and ingredients like fresh produce or eggs, rather than fully cooked meals.
Coast Community Fridge – Riverside, Cambridge
5 Callender Street, Cambridge
The Coast Community Refrigerator is operated by Cambridge City Growers, a food sovereignty group working to organize urban agriculture in the Cambridge area. It is one of the few refrigerators that allows raw meat, but only in the freezer.
Deck Refrigerator – Cambridgeport
157 Windsor Street, Cambridge
Located at the Goree Freedom House in Cambridgeport, the Bridge Fridge is operated by an organization called Community For Us, By Us, a Cambridge Black / Brown youth collective that aims to provide community aid.
Community refrigerator all / bright
243 rue Faneuil and 404 rue Washington, Brighton,
The Allston / Brighton area has two refrigerators: one at Oliveira Deli Market and one at Brighton Congregational Church. They’ve been running for over a year, and this Halloween the refrigerators were filled with bags of special Halloween gifts (although they’re usually packed with fresh produce).
Brookline Community Refrigerator
7 Station Street, Brookline
Located in a colorful shed in Brookline Village, this refrigerator is hosted by the Brothers & Sisters Co. Cafe. They are always on the lookout for volunteers and donations like produce, pantry items, and prepared and labeled meals.
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