Community fridge initiative aims to feed New Orleans with fresh food


Rae Walberg

In a time marked by food insecurity, a self-sustained group of New Orleanians are fighting hunger and bringing the community together one fridge at a time.

New Orleans Community Fridges, a community collective that provides fridge stations stocked with free food to local neighborhoods, came together in July, united by a belief that free food should be accessible to community members.

“Nourishment is a basic human right that shouldn’t be means-tested,” organizers said in a media statement.

A 2018 report from the Jesuit Social Research Institute identified Louisiana as having the second highest rate of food insecurity in the nation, with New Orleans landing in the nation’s top 10 most food insecure metropolitan areas.

Though, food insecurity isn’t always linked to food scarcity, “Louisiana is replete with food deserts,” places that offer both healthy and affordable food options, the report said.

As a “collective effort,” fridge organizers said in an interview that they hope to create a space that “supports and holds its community members accountable.”

The organizers said the collective is community sustained and relies on donations to provide fridges, fridge locations, food donations and maintain other operating costs.

In a month, the effort gained 7 new fridges across the New Orleans area decorated with art from creatives of color and the organization has attracted nearly 6,000 followers on Instagram.

“The response seems overwhelmingly positive. Some tangible measures of this are our social media follows, and the fast turnover rates of food in the fridges,” the organizers said. “We hope that having access to free food and water can be a relief while so many face financial insecurities.”

There is no limit to how much food an individual can take from the fridges and the goal is to provide support, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The work we do is grounded in supporting and empowering our communities by getting the power back into the hands of them,” the organizers said.