September 26 marks the first anniversary of the Germantown Community Fridge. To celebrate, the fridge founder, Jane Ellis, will throw a community giveback. Community fridges became common in Philadelphia in 2020 during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, though they have been common overseas for some years now. The Germantown Community Fridge is a free food hub that allows neighbors to take and give food at their own will.
The fridge website says that the refrigerator helps “combat food insecurity and food waste.” The colorful fridge sits in a shed, with murals dedicated to Black Lives Matters painted on the sides, outside the Greene Street Friends school on 20 W. Armat Street. With the first fridge’s success, Ellis launched a second site at First United Methodist Church of Germantown (19 E. High Street) in January 2021.
For the last few weeks, Ellis has raised funds and shared an Amazon wishlist via Instagram to prepare for the giveback. The giveback will offer toiletries, food, school supplies, menstrual supplies, baby items, and more. Ellis says, “The fridge embodies free food and the community spirit so there’s no better way to show that than with a celebration of more food, more goods, and more community love. The celebration is an opportunity to have a gathering — for volunteers, neighbors, donors, and the community to meet each other and be together.”
The celebration will happen Saturday, September 25, from 11 am to 2 pm at the Armat Street location. In a prior interview, Ellis made it clear that the fridge thrives on its support from the volunteers. The volunteers have helped create it by lending their skills to help build the sheds and sustain the fridges by cleaning, organizing, and donating. Ellis states that this celebration is as much for the community support as for the fridge’s birthday.
She says, “The fridge is truly for the community, run by the community. It wouldn’t still be there if it weren’t for community members’ donations, daily check-ins, drop-offs, pick-ups, etc. Many people always say thank you for all we do, but the community members are just as much to thank!”
The Germantown Info Hub is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.