Refri PVD is a community refrigerator located at 705 Westminster, outside of New Urban Arts, a haven for high school students and trained artist mentors. One can go there right now and retrieve perishable and non-perishable food items. Free. Now. Like, right now.
New Urban Arts artist mentor Dana Heng is the visionary who ensured the manifestation of the community fridge. Inspired by other community refrigerators that have gone up in other cities since March, Heng received support from New Urban Arts and continues to steer the operation.
The refrigerator is colorfully designed and has its own house, complete with pantry shelves and windows. It is conspicuously visible to pedestrians and drivers, and from the windows of Classical High School, Central High School and Providence Technical Career and Technical Academy. It is within walking distance of at least a dozen schools.
The Refri PVD is unlocked and available 24 hours a day, and no data is collected from those who use it. The stock varies, depending on who is providing. Eggs, kale, radishes, fruit. Sometimes sandwiches from Dips Dips (dipsdipspvd.com). Or whatever is on the weekly menu from The Mosaic Table (themosaictable.com). Bread. One might find goodies from @patspastured and @hocuspocusfarm. No matter what is in the Refri PVD, one can safely assume that Farm Fresh RI (@farmfreshri/www.farmfreshri.com), an organization that unifies consumers with farms, and farmers with each other, lent a hand. Farm Fresh, along with New Urban Arts, was one of Refri PVD’s first supporters.
Community Freedge is another option. It’s run by Tameka Eastman-Coburn and Mary Lindberg and is housed at Small Format, a gallery and café that supports artists, especially marginalized artists and makers. “They need folks to show up tangibly for them right now,” says leader Eastman-Coburn. “What’s most inspiring about community fridges is how these kinds of food-sharing operations function as a form of protest rooted in sovereignty, justice and sustainable community. Food, healthy food, is a right. Our cultures and societal structures are deeply intertwined with food, and therefore secure access to food is essential to evolve our culture and societal structures. Food justice work asks us to dream of a future that is possible in our lifetime while we practice it in real time.”
Sara Federici, a student of culinary nutrition whose passion is fighting food insecurity, is raising funds to start PVD Community Fridge (@pvdcommunityfridge). She explains, “Community fridges are awesome because they help foster trust within communities, reduce food waste and fight food insecurity. I spoke with one group a couple of months ago in Massachusetts who said that their host owns a barbershop and since they decided to welcome a community fridge into their space, they’ve received a bunch of new clients as a result.”
Take it or leave it. Take food or leave food. And other ways to support include volunteering to complete community refrigerators’ shelter/exterior/artwork, spreading the word, documenting and for some quite easily: sending CASH green money.
For information on volunteering, donating or receiving food from these community refrigerators, follow Refri PVD @RefriPVD (CashApp $RefriPVD), PVD Community Fridge @pvdcommunityfridge or Community Freedge @communityfreedge