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Free Food, Free of Stigma: Fundraising for Community Fridges During Nonprofit Appreciation Week

The Fund-a-Fridge Project is on a mission to establish a sustainable community refrigerator model in our City. Columbus is one of the few major cities still without a program in place despite the rapidly growing hunger crisis, and we want to help. That’s why we’re raising money during Nonprofit Appreciation Week’s Stomp Out Hunger Virtual Walkathon. Want to know more about community fridge programs? Keep reading- we’ve got you covered.

Community Fridges 101: Free food, free of stigma

Columbus is one of the few major metropolitan cities without a robust community fridge program in place. Many assume food pantries serve the need just the same. There’s a great Vox article on the rise of community fridges across the U.S. and why they’re such a vital resource. It is definitely worth the read. We’ve also jotted down a few fast facts on the program:

 “What is a community fridge?”

A community fridge means 24/7/365 access to fresh nutritious food, meeting the community where they are, rather than requiring transportation to a food bank/pantry. Walk up, anytime, open the fridge, take nutrition home to your family. It’s that simple.

“But what about food pantries?”

Barriers to food pantry models range from hours of access, transportation access, drive-up only requirements due to COVID protocols, stigma and shame for struggling families, forms and paperwork… a community fridge removes these barriers.


“Who keeps the fridges stocked?”

Most models throughout the U.S. rely on amazing community partners and organizations to adopt a fridge site, keep it stocked and well-loved. Best models leverage a food supplier and a small org, business, or team to make sure it is in working order and cared for. Fund-a-Fridge is still accepting partnerships with suppliers and site teams, so if you’re interested in supporting beyond the fundraiser, please reach out and we’ll get you connected with the right folks. 

“What are the biggest barriers, how can I help?”

Sustainable funding, finding orgs and teams to adopt a site, city code compliance- There’s always a workaround… Columbus’ Fund-a-Fridge team worked through theirs by building wooden structures to house the fridges. We hope to be a part of a future site build/beautification project soon- stay connected with Small Biz Cares for details! Currently, funding to launch the initial sites is most pressing. The Fund-a-Fridge team has worked with the City to ensure zoning and code compliance for fridge sites, which include a wooden structure requirement to house the fridge. A site buildout and fridge costs $2,500 to launch. Our walkathon goal funds one site, and more sites still need funding.

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