This post is also available in: polski (Polish)
The catalyst for this article was an virtual meeting with Izabela Duchnowska, the initiator of a community fridge which she put in front of her artistic hostel in Wrocław’s Nadodrze over two years ago.
What inspired you to such an idea?
Originally, the fridge have stood inside my artistic hostel. So, the guests could leave their food for others in this fridge. However, visitors did not always want to use the food that was left, so I figured it would be better to put this fridge outside for local people. I persuaded the nearby bistro bar Powoli and, the local Social Welfare, and the Foodsharing Wrocław group which was just creating. And we opened the community fridge, together.
The fridge in front of HART Hostel & Art was the first such initiative in Wrocław, in Poland. Now, there are seventeen refrigerators in different parts of the city. They also function in other parts of Poland.
How does a community fridge work?
Every day I look after the fridge myself. It is connected to electricity from the hostel. The fridge should be clean at least once a day. I do it, but also the volunteers from the Foodsharing Wroclaw. In turn, the local Social Welfare, through its channels, transmits information about the community fridge to the most needy.
The idea of community fried is not to waste any food. Although it is also a support for poor people
However, there is no verification of how much a person earns. Everybody can use this fridge. People waste tons of food every year, so it is about spreading the idea of using all the products we have, but also about public education starting with young children. That is why I established cooperation with the local kindergartens and schools. Children come to the workshops, then they know that it is possible to bring some food to this fridge. Also the schools hand over what is left in the canteens after the lessons.
How does this idea work among people?
The fridge works great, this idea should be carried over to every city! The food disappears very quickly. Generally 5-10 minutes after delivery, there is nothing left. Deliveries to the fridge are from several times a day. Sometimes they are big packets of bread, salad, from shops or food producers, but more often from private people who have simply cooked too much food and they want to share it. During the two and a half years, our fridge managed to save a ton of food from throwing away.
All products are available for consumption. Regulations hang on the fridge’s door, so that way people know what is allowed and what is not. For example, you cannot bring raw meat, eggs, or frozen food. There is also a note inside: Do not take everything, leav for others! Next to the fridge is a small, powerful cabinet – where you can leave a small items that will be useful for others, even a sanitary napkins.
The community fridge should have a leader who will look after it
Duchnowska created a network of suppliers. The community fridge of Nadodrze has also Fan Page on Facebook, where Izabela spreading information. So, this way more people can know about it. Izabela regularly works with two volunteering groups – Foodsharing Wroclaw and the group Z głodu /From hunger, founded in by the local poet Konrad Góra.
Meeting people around the fridge
I have met many fantastic people because the fridge. There was a time when we were doing zero west dinners with a few friends which I met around the fridge. We can not buy new products, everyone brought what they found in own fridge. Often we had only leftovers. But Gosia Dudek, who provided the vegan blog made amazing vegan dishes with them. We have to come back to these dinners.
The community fridge is like everyday life and everything can happen.
It is not easy to lead it. You need heart and patience for this. After the first, the fridge was completely dilapidated by unknown perpetrators. However, someone quickly donated a new one, and the MiserArt group – the creative zone in the maze of exclusion, made a beautiful wooden case with pockets and shelfs for flower pots.
Sometimes it also happens that someone drives up to the fridge with large bags and takes all brand-packed products from it, to sell them later and have money for alcohol. That is why a note is constantly hanging inside the fridge: Do not take everything, leave it for others! But, it is a really difficult to control a public space.
For the love of people and food
Every year, on February, the community fridge celebrates its birthday. Many people are coming with homemade food.
So let’s enjoy this great initiative and share what we have, especially now, in this difficult time of the pandemic. By the way, let’s also check out the exhibition at art hostel.
I used to live in Wroclaw, quite nearby to this place. And I must admit that I miss such social projects. Maybe it is time for a community fridge in Galway, where I live? What do you think?
All photos are taken from the Fan Page of Wspólna Lodówka na Nadodrzu.
What do you think about this initiative? Have you ever use the community fridge?