Upper East Side Opens First Community Fridge with Free Food – NBC New York

A new, accessible community refrigerator opened Thursday morning on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a first-ever installation for the neighborhood hoping to combat food insecurity.

The community fridge is located at NYCHA Holmes Towers campus on 1780 1st Avenue. The goal is to be open seven days a week around the clock. The site will provide fresh produce and sealed non-perishable goods in a “take what you need, leave what you can” fashion.

This comes as a collaboration effort between nonprofits Grassroots Grocery and Gotham Food Pantry with Central Synagogue joining as a sponsor. The NYCHA Holmes Tenant Association vows to lend daily volunteer support.

Before & After: Manhattan’s Grassroots Grocery

The new, accessible community refrigerator opened Thursday, Oct. 13 on the Upper East Side and aims to help combat food insecurity.

“In this particular development, most of the residents are senior citizens, so they don’t work, and don’t have a stable income. Those food prices with inflation are affecting everybody, and it means that they have to make decisions of cutting out fresh food,” said Grassroots Grocery co-founder and CEO, Daniel Zauderer to NBC New York.

Zauderer believes offering this option to residents in a “no questions asked” manner speaks to the need of fighting for food justice on a hyper-local level. He hopes this creates an inviting space to engage retailers and residents to get involved.

About 1.5 million New Yorkers are currently struggling to find proper meals with 1-in-4 city children facing food insecurity, according to data collected by City Harvest. Food pantry visits are up almost 70% in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic.

In 2020, Latinx and Black residents were almost twice as likely to report less access to emergency food services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, based on the NYC Health brief.

“Providing a physical address where the problem is most severe, and then working with local retailers and neighbors to transport excess food to areas of greatest need, is the foundation for systemic change. A system of food justice,” said Douglas Silver, Executive Director of Gotham Food Pantry.

New Yorkers can sign up to volunteer to stock or clean the fridge. Pre-packaged, prepared meals placed in a transparent container labeled with the date of preparation and potential allergens are welcome.

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