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Hundreds of People Share This One Refrigerator, Thanks to Two Women Who Keep It Stocked

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You know those oranges rolling around in the bottom of the produce drawer in your refrigerator? The ones that seemed like a great idea to bring home when you saw them at the grocery store, but that you’re not really in the mood for anymore?

Instead of just letting them sit there and harden, what if there was an easy way to get them into the hands of people who wanted them, and maybe even get something you are currently in the mood for in return? That’s the premise behind The Friendly Fridge BX, a refrigerator on the sidewalk in the Bronx, New York where people can take what they need and leave what they don’t have a use for (like your still-perfectly-edible oranges).

“We want to normalize the idea of your community being something you can support on a regular basis in a small way so that everyone’s lives are just a little bit easier,” says Sara Allen, co-organizer of the community fridge along with fellow Bronx resident Selma Raven. “Just because you’re not going to use [something] doesn’t mean it needs to go to waste.”

Allen and Raven have teamed up to support sustainability in the Bronx while also fighting food insecurity (a challenge one in five New Yorkers face) by making leftover food from restaurants and people’s home kitchens available to those who need it.

They got the idea to start the community fridge (the first of its kind in the Bronx and the fifth in New York City at the time) in early 2020 amidst the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three hours after the idea was born, they purchased a refrigerator on Craigslist and their community-support movement had officially begun.

“The woman whose refrigerator inspired us told us, ‘You’re going to be surprised at how people show up for this refrigerator,’ and she was right,” Allen says. “Because people have shown up for this community refrigerator in ways we’ve never expected.”

Eight months later, there are now 11 community fridges in the Bronx and 80 across New York City, with The Friendly Fridge BX serving 50 to 60 visitors per day on their busiest days.

Allen and Raven are the pioneers leading the charge in their neighborhood, but they are also examples of how simple it can be to support your own community and how empowering the concept of mutual aid can be.

“We can set the tone of [our] community by showing up consistently, saying, ‘This is how I’m going to help my neighbor, because this is the kind of help that I need too,'” Allen says.

To hear the inspiring story behind why Allen and Raven started their community fridge venture, watch the video above—and donate to the cause here.

All claims made within this video and article are the opinion of the talent featured. Well+Good and Target are not responsible for these claims.

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