Jane Ellis was scrolling through her Instagram feed one late July afternoon when she came across a post by Green Point Fridge. She clicked on the social media post and saw a photo of a lime green, painted refrigerator with the words, ‘Free Food’ in graffiti art.
The Greene Street Friends fourth-grade teacher had found a post about a Brooklyn community fridge, a mutual aid idea to provide a refrigerator, stocked with food, open to community members in need. The fresh food is available any-time of the day.
“We can do this here in Germantown”, Ellis said to her husband.
Ellis took on the project of the Germantown Community Fridge. She and her husband recently bought a home. They had decided to replace the fridge that came with the house and had an extra fridge. According to Ellis, it was the perfect scenario. “So since then it’s really just been me trying to organize it and get some volunteers.”
Ellis has worked out most of the logistics for the fridge but is still looking for one important element – someone to house the fridge. She says ideally, it’s someone with an outdoor electrical outlet who is okay with a refrigerator on their storefront.
Her plan is for the community to have access to the food 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The take-some, leave-some policy will encourage neighbors to take food that they need and donate what they can. In addition to donated food, she hopes local markets and grocery stores will contribute their surplus produce.
Ellis’ fridge will join a list of mutual aid programs in Germantown: GREAT’s Mutual Aid, Germantown Supply Hub, and several food cupboards across the neighborhood. Since the pandemic began, America has seen an increase in community fridges. But the concept has been popular overseas for a while. By 2014, there were more than 350 community fridges in Germany.
Ellis said she has potential locations for the fridge that should be finalized by next week.
It’s just like, we want to do something that’s helpful, we want to help our community, and we want to give free fresh food.”
You can find out more about the Germantown Community Fridge on their Instagram page.