By Mitali Pradhan, June 4 2021—
The Calgary Community Fridge Mutual Aid project aims to address food insecurity and eliminate food waste in the city.
Located on Centre Street North, this space is open to anyone as a no-judgement space. Individuals struggling financially are encouraged to take what they can. Sasha Lavoie, working for the Campus Mental Health Strategy in communications, noticed Calgarians with food insecurity as a mental-health crisis stressor while volunteering at the Distress Centre in 2019.
“This outdoor community space with a fridge, freezer and pantry is accessible 24/7 for anyone to take or donate food and basic hygiene items,” said Lavoie. “A little free library is something I use to compare or explain the space sometimes.”
Fresh fruit, vegetables, dry goods, sealed non-alcoholic beverages and single serving snacks are accepted into the community fridge. Bread, pastries, fresh eggs and dairy products are also accepted if labelled with the best before date. All non-perishable packaging is also wiped with disinfectant.
“It’s also meant to be an easy-to-use space for donors — anyone can drop-off anytime, or organize food drives, rally or share information with their friends, coworkers, family or buy a few extra items at the grocery store and pop by to donate,” said Lavoie. “If you buy in bulk, consider dropping by an extra contained item if you can.”
University of Calgary’s Students’ Union clubs such as club Pangea and Global Development Society have also worked to support the project through food drives. Lavoie has also seen school groups drop by the fridge for support.
This project is also a recipient of the university’s Sustainability Awards which recognize sustainability leadership across campus and the community. The Community Fridge relates to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1, no poverty, SDG 2, zero hunger, SDG 3, good health and well-being and SDG 10, reduced inequalities.
“We hope to see more spaces like this pop-up,” said Lavoie. “The Crescent Heights space sees a lot of volume, so it would be nice to see more fridges or pantry spaces in neighbourhoods.”