A community initiative is ready to get off the ground, except for one last thing – it needs a location.
The Kelowna Community Fridge is an initiative started by residents Lauren St. Clair and Amie Rand.
The goal is to have a fridge and pantry in a public location that those in need within the community can access and get food for free.
Rand said she had been reading about the community fridge in Calgary and how it has helped many residents who are struggling to pay for food.
St. Clair said it may be the first such project in Kelowna, but there are already many others like it that have sprung up in other Canadian cities to support communities as the pandemic stretches on and impacts many people’s finances.
“Community fridges like this offer a low-barrier solution for residents and community members who may otherwise not get the help they need at a local food bank,” St. Clair said.
“We want to fill the gap that isn’t always covered by food banks and charities because community fridges offer resources without having to ‘qualify’ to receive that support, whereas with food banks you have to meet certain requirements in order to access help.”
Rand said, especially now that so many people have been pushed to precarious financial situations, it hits hard and is part of the motivation why they want to get the community fridge up and running as soon as possible.
“I was reading one in seven Canadians deal with food insecurity due to the pandemic,” she said.
So far, the project has been successful, St. Clair and Rand already have a fridge and have drawn up plans for volunteer shifts to clean and stock the fridge and pantry. Now, all they need is a suitable location.
“The hardest part, which I don’t think we anticipated, was (finding) a location,” Rand said.
“We’re looking for something that is easily accessible from bike routes and transit… brightly lit and safe.”
St. Clair and Rand are asking businesses, landlords, and property owners in the city who may be willing to partner with them and let them put the fridge on the premises.
Rand added once the Kelowna Community Fridge is up and running, they’ll want to expand the service to other Okanagan cities.
“We want to do this in West Kelowna, Lake Country, Vernon, all the way down to Osoyoos.”