Love Fridge wants to nurture Chicago communities with food and support

Chicago (CBS) — Chicago Love Fridge is celebrating its second year of operating free community refrigerators around the city.

every several weeks, Chicago Love Fridge sets up shop. They bring out their four-poster tents and fold-out lawn chairs, put up some banners, make some refreshments, and invite the community to learn what they do; To hear about the resources they provide.

Recently, a mutual aid group held a community pop-up in Pilsen, in the park adjacent to the Mexican Art Museum, a few days before its two-year anniversary.

“We’re here to energize the Pilsen community by letting them know about the resources available to them, which is Love Fridge on Blue Island, just south of 18th Street. So to know it as a resource But I’d benefit from more support in the community as well,” said James Worm, the organizer who hosted Chicago’s first Love Fridge. ,[Being] A host needs to have a location where you can host a refrigerator where the power supply is expected, facing a sidewalk, accessible to anyone 24 hours a day. I have an area on my property… it was my garage fridge and now it’s a sidewalk fridge.”

Since its founding in 2020, more than two dozen new Love Fridges have been installed in Chicago.

“Our primary objective is to engage the community to support the fridge locally. My fridge is heavily supported by my neighbors, but also for use by my neighbors. And that means, if you go grocery shopping.” Going shopping, buying extra things to use up in the fridge,” Worm said.

The Love Fridge says community outreach is one of the most effective ways to connect with the people who will use and supply the fridge to help.

Similarly, the group relies on social media to spread the word about their work. That’s how they were inspired to start their first love fridge.

“Actually, it started on social media. We were inspired by the community frizz that we saw popping up in Brooklyn, and realizing that this was really a movement that was happening around the world, and we know it. We’re proactive to figure out how to get it in Chicago,” Worm said. “Others learned about our organization through social media, and were trying to get more involved with us and be hosts, contributing fridges, moving fridges. People who build shelters Volunteering for Fridge, working with other organizations that can help support Fridge.”

“Specifically for the Pilsen fridge, it is chi resistance, this is the big love fridge network. it is Pilsen Solidarity Networkit is Pilsen Food Pantry, it is Pilsen AllianceChicago State Pandemic Response, Even La Michoacana [Premium] Amara “Rebel Betty” Martin, one of Pilsen’s managers, said, “The food leaves, even just a fridge, there are more than ten groups watching at different times to ensure that It is being done that that fridge is being taken care of.” Love Fridge, at 1855 S. Blue Island Avenue, hosted by a local business called La Michoacana Premium.

“It’s really just that neighborhood presence for fridges and advocating for fridges. And since there are 30 of them, we all need to be active in our neighborhoods to make sure people know about it and its are caring. At the same time,” Martin said.

Love Fridge is primarily supplied by the community, although it has received some external funding. Organizers say they hope the fridge will be an act of community activism and participation.

“A lot of the donations are individual donations, but the main Love Fridge has received some grants. Pilson Fridge is operating a food donation coming from the Chicago Food Sovereignty Coalition, which is part of Love Fridge. Restaurant Rescue. Sometimes People go to restaurants or even shops to pick up food where there is extra food to pick up,” Martin said. “Just a lot of individuals, I would say it’s hundreds, hundreds of people who tap from time to time, but maybe like a good core of people, like ten people who are out there day after day from the start.”

“Staff members are unpaid volunteers for people who want to be tapped. You don’t have to be part of a group to pitch in with Fridge. I’m just a firm believer that not everyone should be part of an organization “We’re loosely organized at work, so you don’t have to do administrative work to volunteer, like you might show up at your local fridge,” Martin said.

“There are many ways to engage with Love Fridge. The idea is that anyone can have what they want or need and it’s no questions asked, we don’t think anyone needs food and it’s freely accessible. which is to be used for that purpose,” said Worm.

“But also, if you have extra food or if you’re interested in supporting it, you have a place where you can do something in the neighborhood of Pilsen,” Wurm said.

“A lot of times people think it’s just something to take for granted, but we really need to remind people that we need help cleaning it up, that we need people to take food,” Martin said. .

For those wishing to tap in and volunteer with Love Fridge, social media is the best way to find out what the group is looking for and how volunteers can best help.

“Our group’s origins started on social media and it’s still a great way to reach us on Instagram and Facebook. But of course, we also have our website and that’s where we have all of our refrigerators. But it’s not just our refrigerators that we support in the fridge network. We try to get knowledge about any other community fridge pantries and include it on the map. And hope to learn more about what love is or how love can better support the fridge community,” Worm said.

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