Saint-Henri community fridge looking for donations, new home

Darren James Gerbrandt says he's having trouble keeping his community fridge in Saint-Henri stocked. Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. Courtesy Darren James Gerbrandt

Darren James Gerbrandt runs a community fridge in Saint-Henri, where anyone who needs fresh food is welcome to dig in and serve themselves.

Gerbrandt finally got the project up and running in May of last year.

“I wanted to do it for a while,” he said, adding he’d run a community fridge in his hometown of Winnipeg back in the 1990s.

“I really enjoyed it and wanted to do it again,” he said.

Then opportunity came knocking.

“One day someone said ‘I have a fridge for you’ and the fridge came.”

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Gerbrandt said he relies on donations from neighbours and some local restaurants to keep the fridge stocked.

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But lately, he’s had trouble keeping it full, due in part to personal health issues. Gerbrandt says he’s had his stomach removed after being diagnosed with stomach cancer.

“I’ve taken time to reflect on my own health and since then, I’m not doing much for the fridge,” he admitted.

Nonetheless, it’s a project that’s dear to his heart and sorely needed in the neighbourhood.

“It helps reduce waste and helps feed the people,” he said. “It’s an area that’s poverty-stricken.”

He’s hoping the community will chip in to keep the project afloat and that more restaurants and food stores will consider donating.

“They can give me food the day before the expiration date,” Gerbrandt said.

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Gerbrandt is also hoping to find a more suitable location.

The fridge is currently located on private property near St-Rémi and Notre-Dame streets.

He explained that sometimes people feel intimidated trying to access the fridge.

“I would like to get it more centrally located,” Gerbrandt said. “It would be more accessible than it is now.”

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Anyone interested in the project can communicate with Gerbrandt via the St. Henri Free Food Fridge page on Facebook.

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