After nearly 2 years of operation, the Kelowna Community Fridge is looking for a new home.
The ‘give what you can and take what you need’ anonymous food service was taken down on Dec. 30 to make space for it’s host, the Kelowna Unitarians, to undergo renovations, said Allisa Bennett, member of the Kelowna Community Fridge collective.
The church is creating a new wheelchair-accessible entrance and will be out of commission while major renovations take place over the next year.
Bennett said that ideally the food accessibility initiative should be moved to another central location in the city where people experiencing food insecurity can easily access it.
She said that due to the community’s increased need for food services it would be best if the new location had space for an even larger fridge and an expanded pantry.
The mutual aid project was started in 2021, sparked by an increased demand for access to nutrition due to the pandemic, when Bennett was outside working on the community’s edible landscape garden.
She said while gardening a group of young people approached her with the idea for a community fridge.
Over the next year and a half, while gardening she would watch the fridge empty and fill with people dropping off what they could and taking what they needed. She said that tons and tons of food moved through the fridge and shelving each week.
Carol Kergan, collective member, said that the fridge offers judgement and barrier free access to food, without the need to fill out paperwork or wait in line. Kergan said that people came all hours of the day or night to take what they needed for themselves and their loved ones.
Bennett said that often, people would show up to the fridge to take what they need, and end up offering to help repair latches or shovel the walkway.
“I get choked up just thinking about it,” said Bennett. “Thank you to the community for the wonderful sharing of human kindness,” said Bennett.
She said that the collective needs someplace to go. People rely on it’s service.
While the community fridge is out of service until the mutual aid group finds a new location, the monthly pop-up pantry in Roxby square will continue.
In addition to a new location, the collective is looking for new volunteers to contribute at all levels.
The group continues to accept donations for the pop-up pantry, but is only able to take pre-packaged items or food prepared in a food-safe certified kitchen.