Temple Beth Sholom Sisterhood members learned recently about the national movement to reduce food insecurity by establishing and stocking community refrigerators that are accessible to residents who struggle to feed their families.
At a recent Sisterhood program held during Chanukah at TBS in Roslyn Heights, Dr. Joie Jager-Hyman spoke about the Crown Heights Friendly Fridge that she co-founded with her Brooklyn neighbors who work together as volunteers to keep the refrigerator stocked. Sisterhood members donated enough fresh food that night to fill 10 crates for the Crown Heights fridge as well as funds that will go towards an upcoming food drive that will give away 150 meals.
The Crown Heights Friendly Fridge, which is hooked up to electric power at a neighborhood bodega, is a sheltered fridge that remains outdoors year-round, says Joie. That way it’s accessible to area residents, who can pick and choose from its contents to supplement their meager food supply.
The fridge is run on the honor system: Recipients do not have to qualify financially as they do at food pantries but can take food out of the fridge and bring it home, no questions asked.
In the 14 months since setting up the fridge, Joie says this informal program has been working well and patrons have not abused the privilege. She says she was motivated to set up the fridge because of growing food insecurity in the area last year as the pandemic showed no signs of abating.
“Nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers, including one in four children, have experienced food insecurity,” Joie said. She and her neighbors living in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, learned through operating the community fridge, that there are people living just a few blocks away who struggle to feed themselves and their families.