Organizers of Community Fridge Searching for New Location

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The organizers of the Jamaica Plain community fridge  are searching for a new location to host their project, but concerns about liability are making businesses hesitant to commit.

Josiel Gonzalez, black hat, is an organizer of JP's community fridge. (Photo by Emilio Musto)

 

The original fridge was located outside of D’Friends Barbershop in Hyde Square and was destroyed in a shooting on November 6th. It had been put in place in September as a way to combat spiking food insecurity

Like other community fridges that have sprung up across the US in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the JP fridge sought to fight food insecurity through a simple concept -- those passing by its brightly painted exterior could drop off food donations if able, or take food if in need. 

Josiel Gonzalez, a leading JP fridge volunteer, loved watching people peer into the fridge on their way to the nearby Whole Foods, then circle back on their way home to donate freshly purchased goods.

According to Gonzalez, organizers already have a replacement refrigerator.

D’Friends would be happy to host the new fridge, but Gonzalez explained that the D’Friends location was always temporary. With the onset of winter volunteers will need to build a shed around the fridge, which would not be possible on the sidewalk in front of the barbershop.   

JP's community fridge in Hyde Square is looking for a new location.

“We want to create something that’s sustainable in the long term, especially with the New England winters,” Gonzalez said.

Organizers have raised the requisite funds for shed-related building materials and volunteer carpenters are on standby. Gonzalez explains that they could even raise money to pay the monthly electricity bill upfront (D’Friends paid for the previous fridge’s electricity, which ran about $30-$40).

All the JP fridge team needs is a space -- preferably in a well trafficked part of Hyde Square, visible from the street, but removed from the sidewalk itself.

Gonzalez is waiting to hear back from a couple of businesses, but admitted that the project is at a standstill.

“We had a spot in mind, we thought we were going to land it, and then it’s been really, really slow. So we had to go to a plan B,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez did not want to name any potential hosts, but indicated that liability concerns are keeping business from committing.

“Everyone is always focused on the liability piece, and it’s totally understandable, but it’s always like ‘What can go wrong? What can go wrong?’ Everything is so fear driven, and that’s what creates the energy we currently have,” he added

Gonzalez has, on the other hand, been overwhelmed by the support from individuals in the community. While the JP fridge is out of action, he has been directing offers of assistance received at the @bostoncommunityfridge Instagram account towards the other community fridges throughout Boston.

In the meantime, Gonzalez and team are exercising patience while working to find a permanent host.

“Really, we’re just looking for someone to believe in us,” he says.

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