It’s a simple concept: Put a refrigerator in a public place, and invite everyone to stock it with food they don’t need. Then allow anyone to take what they need, no questions asked.
Joshua Mock is the owner of Little Amsterdam Coffee on South Redondo in Mid-City and a sponsor of LA Community Fridges.
“The best thing you can do is lend a hand. A great giver is a better receiver," Mock said. "People need food. There’s people that want to give and I mean why not? Why not help? "
Paloma Vergara is with Reach for the Top, which is coordinating the LA community fridge project, modeled after a similar program in New York, which puts the refrigerators in the neighborhoods where they’re needed.
“There’s anonymity. There’s basically the ability to walk up, grab food and leave," Vergara said.
"Food insecurity doesn’t only count for homeless. Food insecurity is a broad spectrum it can be anybody.”
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The project started less than two weeks ago and there are already half a dozen community fridges in LA city and one in Long Beach.
If a business wants to get involved, all they need to do is provide electricity and accessibility. The stocking, maintenance and cleaning is all handled by volunteers.
The food is donated by restaurants, meal delivery services and individuals.
As Vergara helps a passerby choose items, he tells her he’s not a thief and can’t afford to pay. When she explains the food is free, he’s filled with immense gratitude.
"It’s the best thing you can do is help someone, especially people that are hungry everyday," Mock said.
Seeing the food go to those who need it validates Mock's decision to get involved and motivates Vergara to keep the project going.