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Community Fridges Rose From the Pandemic to Address Hunger in Philly

Philly Voice

January 15, 2022

The pandemic brought a lot of grief to Philadelphia, but in the face of the hardships many residents have experienced community members have often stepped up to support each other A prime example would be the city's burgeoning community fridge movement.

Hunger is a big problem in Philly. It's the poorest big city in the nation, with a poverty rate of nearly a quarter according to the 2020 census. As a result, Feeding America estimated that nearly 29% of Philadelphians experienced food insecurity in 2021.

But those living with hunger sometimes avoid getting assistance from more traditional sources. There's often a sense of shame or humiliation attached to taking government aid like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or food stamps, said Mariana Chilton, the director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities at Drexel University.

“There’s an enormous amount of stigma and discrimination that they experience at the cash register in the grocery store," she told Next City.

The community fridges eliminate some of that stigma because they're technically open to everyone, regardless of need.

There are at least 37 community fridges in Philadelphia at the moment, according to this map most recently updated in October. Each organization will generally have a list of needed items and directions for getting involved on their website.

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