A new community fridge opened in Calgary’s Beltline neighbourhood on Saturday to help bring awareness to food insecurity in the area.
The Beltline Fridge committee, along with the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association, launched the community fridge and pantry to provide publicly accessible food resources for those who need it. Community members will be able to donate and take food items freely, and the organizations say there is no policing of who can access the food and how much of it can be accessed.
Located at 221 12th Avenue S.W., it will be run and maintained by Beltline residents and organization volunteers, as well as a subcommittee of the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association’s board of directors.
This is the first community fridge and pantry in the area, the Beltline Fridge committee says.
“Nobody should go hungry and no food should go to waste,” said Juliet Burgess, one of the volunteers who started the Beltline Fridge project.
“This is the first community fridge in the Beltline … People can come to this location at any time if they need food, if they’re just passing by and need a snack, if they need to fill their cart full of groceries.”
Burgess encourages Beltline community residents to remember the Beltline Fridge if they have extra groceries.
“It relies on the community to donate consistently and for our volunteers to keep up as well,” she said.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said projects like the Beltline Fridge are needed to help address food insecurity in the city.
According to a Quality of Life Report published by the Calgary Foundation this year, 36 per cent of parents skip meals to make sure their kids can eat. Around 28 per cent of households with children cannot afford healthy food, and 70 per cent of families surveyed said they purchase fast food because it’s affordable.
“It is unbelievable the amount of effort that volunteers and committees and members of our city administration have put into creating this type of community pantry,” she told Global News at a community event on Saturday.
“To have the ability for people to come and take what they need and give what they can is absolutely critical … Given the fact that we are in an incredible time of food insecurity, it breaks my heart that we’re in this place. It’s rewarding to know that Calgarians are there for each other and they’re stepping up whenever they can.”
Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott told Global News the pantry provides dignity for those who need access to healthy food.
“This is the underpinning of what society is supposed to be. We’re supposed to help each other and to work toward making sure that everyone has access to what they need,” he said.
“Between the community members that will maintain the fridge, the community volunteers that staff it and the people that will have a good meal because of it, there’s nothing better than that.”