Community Fridges Arise from Pandemic to Address Hunger in Philly


PhillyVoice Staff: Noah Zucker | January 15, 2022



The pandemic brought a lot of grief to Philadelphia, but in the face of the hardships many residents have experienced, community members have often stepped up to support each other

A prime example would be the city's burgeoning community fridge movement.


Today, there are dozens of fridges and pantries around the city where Philadelphians in need of food can simply open a door and grab some for free.


Volunteer networks keep each location stocked with both donated food and items bought with monetary donations. The fridges are mostly focused on providing healthy options.


But back in March 2020, there were none in Philadelphia Syona Arora, the founder of the South Philadelphia Community Fridge, told Next City.


She had just been laid off from her job and was volunteering to keep herself busy when she first heard about the concept from a cousin in New York City.


"I kind of assumed that there would have been one in Philadelphia and I was pretty surprised to learn that there actually wasn’t,” Arona said.


After a few months of organizing and coordinating with other volunteers in the neighborhood, Arona's South Philadelphia Community Fridge opened its first location on the corner of S 6th and Titan streets. The organization now has three more community fridges located across South Philly.


Others in the city followed South Philly's lead and created their own community fridges.


Some groups are also focused on specific neighborhoods – like the People's Fridge in West Philly, the Coral Street Fridge in Kensington and the Germantown Community Fridge – while others take a city-wide approach – like Fridges and Family, which has three different Philly locations, and the Mama-Tee Community Fridge program which has 18 locations across the city.


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