Another Community Fridge and Pantry has opened in the Okanagan, but this time in Penticton, B.C.
Penticton residents Allison Howard and Dave Corbeil built and opened the space nearly a month after the idea first came to mind.
“In those five weeks we’ve managed to build this thing, assemble it, completely finish it and we had our grand opening on Saturday. It has been kind of a whirlwind of activity,” said Corbiel.
“And as we’re seeing, it continues to be very active. Lots of food going out and lots of food coming in.”
The Community Fridge is a barrier-free outdoor space where people can access food and hygiene products donated by the community. It is ‘a take what you need and give what you can’ system and anyone can access the space 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
“We are not able to take homemade food, things have to be made in a commercial establishment or store-bought and no open packages,” said Corbeil.
“We’re discovering things that seem to go very quickly are things like fruit, vegetables, dairy products are going very quickly and milk, cheese, yogurts.”
The pair said they were inspired by the Community Fridge in Lake Country and other similar projects across Canada.
“We just got busy, did some research, contacted other programs. We have had a huge amount of help from the program in Lake Country, they’ve kind of been our mentors,” said Howard.
The project was launched in collaboration with the Elks Club of Penticton and the Fill the Food Gap program. Howard said that since the beginning of the project, the community has already contributed so much.
“Value First Credit Union gave us, what they call, a simple generosity grant of $500 so that was a great start. That was on top of many local businesses donating the lumber, the paint, most of the supplies,” said Howard.
“And just individuals, people in the community saying, ‘how can we donate,’ the generosity has been overwhelming.”
They plan to visit the fridge daily to ensure that the space stays clean and safe but will be searching for some extra help.
“We really want to develop a core group of volunteers so that there are more people looking after it. That will be both people depositing food, making sure it is in good order, and also people who are able to pick up donations if there are large donations. That is our next step,” said Howard.
“We also want to partner with a grocery store so that we are not spending all of our donated money so quickly.”
The fridge is located in front of the Elks Club on Ellis Street. For more information, you can visit the Penticton Community Fridge and Pantry Facebook page.