In New York, the USA, people working for artists and the community are working together to address the issue of food shortages. A refrigerator is placed around the city with healthy food so you can take it home for free.
Those who want to participate in this "kind refrigerator" movement prepare a refrigerator and get permission from a local store to connect the refrigerator to a power source. Volunteers stop by several times a day to clean the fridge and replenish their food.
Refrigerators are beginning to appear here and there as the outbreak of the new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) causes many people to run into food shortages.
In New York, many people are losing their jobs and running out of food. But some people feel burdened with asking for help.
In light of these people's feelings, there are "friendly fridges" in various parts of the city where local residents can work with local stores to bring food home for free for those who need it. I don't get asked anything when I take my food home.
"I didn't have the money to buy food. That was hard. But I don't want to tell someone to help me," Laura Alvarez told Insider.
"It's very important to have something that you can access without being asked anything. A lot of people come and take back some food and, conversely, leave food behind."
Alvarez, an artist, and co-founder of BxArts Factory, painted on three "kind refrigerators" in the Bronx. Then the locals - starting in Brooklyn - prepared refrigerators and began filling up for those in need.
Artists like Alvarez volunteer to paint in the refrigerator.
On July 5, while Alvarez spent several hours painting in the refrigerator in the Bronx, at least six people stopped by the refrigerator and brought back some food. And more people came by car and left fresh food and other groceries, Alvarez said.
"The fact that there were many elderly people moved me. I thought what they had gone through. Mr. Alvarez said.
The refrigerators were placed by Selma Raven and Sarah Allen. I told Insider that I came up with it after I met a friend working on a similar project in Harlem at the end of May.
At the time, Raven and Allen didn't know the movement was originally started by Sadias Ampster of In Our Hearts NYC. Dumpster bought a refrigerator for food sharing programs but didn't enter her Brooklyn apartment.
That's why Raven says the information spread on social media when she put the fridge outside and put the food in.
Many "kind refrigerators" use power to local general stores with the owner's permission.
"It's used by a lot of essential workers and home helpers. We pick one or two items and put them in our bags," Raven told Insider.
"People don't have money now."
In particular, the Bronx was heavily affected by the new coronavirus and its associated economic impact.
Raven and Allen often stop by to clean the fridge and replenish their food, spend less than an hour a day but are often happy to get some items (maybe they didn't have enough money to buy them).
"When I walked this morning, there were five Sunny Delights in the fridge, and there was a mother who was very happy to see it," Raven said.
"She has some children at home," Allen added.
Another woman was happy to find the chicken in the fridge, Raven said. It is said that the woman was not able to buy meat for a while.
According to the New York Times, at least 14 of these refrigerators have appeared in New York City since February.
After they launched their refrigerators, Raven and Allen contacted a group of In Our Hearts. In Our Hearts tracks the expanding project.
This exercise not only helps the troubled neighbors but also helps to reduce food waste. At the end of the day, local shops sometimes leave unsold bread and other food.
In the United States, about 30 percent of the food supplied is being disposed of, Allen told Insider.
Raven said that despite legal liability issues, major restaurant chains are often banned from donating surplus ingredients, but local grocery stores and delis donate sandwiches and other food to Bronx refrigerators.
Many people are also focused on donating fresh vegetables and fruits that will be the hardest to reach for those who are struggling financially. Some of them come directly from the farms that operate in the area.
"Having access to fresh natural food is a luxury they never think of," Alvarez says.
According to the Food Bank for New York City, more than 1.2 million people (14.4% of citizens) are running out of food in New York City.
"I hope the awareness of this project will increase and people will get into the habit of leaving something behind," Allen says.
"This little food becomes someone's dinner that night."