Brooklyn community fridge aims to feed and inspire

Ashlie Rodriguez

There’s a new community fridge in Bushwick, packed with fresh fruits and veggies weekly, intended to help feed the hungry and inspire those with disabilities.

For Jason Yahaya, that means packing the fridge daily with grocery staples like produce, meats, vegetables, canned foods and more.

Yahaya and other developmentally disabled adults inside a group home at 1109 Bushwick Avenue came up with the idea for the fridge after holding a food drive during the pandemic. “So the whole community can have access to food,” Yahaya said.

Two local food pantries, Let Your Heart Not Be Troubled and 9 Million Reasons, will help fill the fridge, and volunteers like Yahaya will maintain it. The fridge helps feed the hungry and the financially strapped, while boosting the mental health of the volunteers.

“When they see the people in the neighborhood saying ‘Thank you for doing this,’” said Monica Santos, the Chief Operations Officer of Services for the UnderServed, “When they see people lining up, when they see those people out at other places, and people then know, ‘Oh you did that for us,’ it really gives people a sense of value.” 

Services for the UnderServed opened the fridge through a private donation, and also has a fridge in the Bronx, with the hopes of expanding the program in more neighborhoods across the five boroughs, as more New Yorkers face rising prices, dwindling wages, and growing financial and food insecurities.

Deliveries are every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. People will line up for the fridge, waiting for the fresh food. But supplies go fast, which is why community donations are greatly appreciated, as the fridge is open 24 hours a day.

“There was a day that a woman came and left diapers, and another woman was driving by and got out and actually started crying and said ‘I didn’t know how I was going to be able to get diapers for my child,’” Santos said. “So when you see that impact, when you see that people are really struggling and not only are we really doing this, but people in the local community are also coming and leaving items for their neighbors. So it’s a community giving back to a community.”

“I don’t really get a reward for doing this,” Yahaya said. “I do it from my heart.”

Those who are interested in donating can go to where they can find out ways to donate to the organization’s call online, by mail, phone, through stocks, and matching gifts.

To find out more about each individual fridge and their stocking preferences, including the Bushwick site, visit this website.

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