Fort Worth’s first community fridge will debut this weekend with a block party, food drive, and free community food giveaway.
Funky Town Fridge’s first community appliance will be located at 3144 Bryan Avenue in Fort Worth’s Southside. The organization’s founder, Kendra Richardson, is spreading word about the fridge with a “stocking party” on Saturday, September 26 from 2 to 4 P.M. Richardson is asking people to bring items like fresh fruit, canned food, butter, jam, bottled water, and more to help stock the fridge, and is encouraging anyone looking to receive food to bring a bag to take goods home.
Community fridges have popped up all over the country as Americans have felt the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The fridges operate from a “take what you need, leave what you can” ethos and are usually organized by neighborhoods or individuals as opposed to larger non-profits. Earlier this month, Dallas got its first community fridge, The People’s Fridge, located in the Oak Cliff neighborhood.
Richardson said she first got the idea for a Fort Worth fridge in, after seeing one in New Orleans on social media. Richardson, who is a high school world geography teacher and who has been active in demonstrations for the Movement for Black Lives, was looking for a way to support her community after the death of George Floyd.
“It kind of sat me down and made me realize — it’s a never ending cycle, and I just wanted to break it,” she said. “And I’m really a ‘get shit done’ type of person.”
Since then, Richardson has sourced six fridges and counting. “They’re coming out the wazoo,” she joked. She’s solicited volunteers to help staff the fridge and found a host for the first one, Southside botanical shop Greenhouse 817, whose owner Deryk Poynor will provide the physical location for the fridge and the electricity to keep it running. She found an artist to decorate the fridge and even convinced a team of builders to create a shelter around the appliance to protect it from the elements, a testament to the community she hopes the project will help nurture and serve.
“At its core, revolution has always been about community,” she said. “And one of the first steps to becoming a revolutionary is knowing where your food comes from.”
Now, Richardson is looking for hosts for the five other fridges that have been donated to her. Eventually, Richardson hopes the program will run itself.
At Saturday’s event, speakers will address some of the issues that contribute to food insecurity in neighborhoods like Southside. Richardson herself is deliberate in the language she uses around those issues. A post on Funky Town Fridge’s Instagram refers to food apartheid instead of “food deserts” because the first term addresses the myriad of issues — systemic racism, economics, geography — that contribute to food insecurity. Part of Richardson’s goal is to remove the shame that can accompany these issues.
“We never want anyone to feel as though they’re less because they choose to participate in taking the food OUT of the fridge,” she wrote on the post.
“I want people to be able to change their thinking and language around food apartheid,” she told Eater. “I just want to make sure people feel comfortable taking what they need.”