Community Fridges are Popping up in the Hudson Valley
Among many other issues, one of the nation’s most urgent problems only grew worse during the COVID-19 crisis: hunger. According to one estimate by researchers at Northwestern University, food insecurity more than doubled as a result of the economic crisis brought on by the virus and subsequent lockdown, with one in four US households experiencing food insecurity in 2020 and the crisis affecting more than five million children nationwide.
Here in the Hudson Valley, several businesses and community organizations have found a way to address food access in their local communities: the Community Fridge. While the towns of Hudson and Kingston are often viewed in the media as burgeoning cosmopolitan cities with white affluent populations, they are extremely diverse communities with extreme wealth disparity where plenty of residents live below the poverty line.
Photo by Alex Lau Courtesy of Kingston Community Fridges
In the past year, each town has seen the establishment of free community refrigerators – allowing any member of the community to pick up or donate food free of charge at any time. The content of each fridge is partly donated by businesses or community organizations while the larger community is invited to participate via social media.
As described by @hudsoncommunityfreefridge the free fridge is “a people-powered means of making food that might otherwise go to waste available to anyone in the community who wants it, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no questions asked.” Community members and businesses alike are encouraged to support the efforts by donating produce, meat, dry and packaged goods. Anything that isn’t home-cooked is allowed.
Following an online fundraiser, Kingston saw two community fridges set up in September 2020 at the Clinton Avenue Methodist Church (122 Clinton Avenue) and at Beyond the 4 Walls community outreach organization (15 Van Buren Street). In Hudson, two local businesses have supplied and are supporting community fridges in their neighborhoods, at Kitty’s Market (60 South Front Street) and Lil Deb’s Oasis (747 Columbia Street).
Each refrigerator is operated independently. In each case, if the fridge is not stocked independently, the local businesses will provide the supply.