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Cool idea: Community fridge helps fight back against food insecurity

First fridge is located in the city's south end, but organizer is eager to place more around Barrie, including downtown

The Barrie Community Fridge is up and running with hopes of expanding in the city and reducing food insecurity.

The project is headed up by Ayanna Cabrera, who heard about the community fridge idea while she was a student at Ryerson University in Toronto. The 23-year-old grew up in Barrie and was looking for a way to help her community.

“I thought it was such a great idea and an easy way to get healthy food to people who need it,” Cabrera told BarrieToday. “There is such a big poverty issue right now everywhere, but I saw it in Barrie and wanted to help in some way.”

A community fridge allows for those who need a little extra food and can’t necessarily afford it to take what they need. Others are asked to leave what they can to help keep the fridge stocked.

Barrie’s community fridge, which was launched March 26, is located at 9 Churchill Dr., in the city's south end on the property of vertical farming company My Local Leaf. The company services grocery stores, food service providers and home meal-kit providers within 50 kilometres of the farm. 

When My Local Leaf offered the space, Cabrera says she jumped at it.

“A company called Chill Out donated a fridge for the project and My Local Leaf has been so supportive by giving us the space,” Cabrera said. "It's been a great thing to have in our community in the small time we’ve had it.”

While Cabrera says she's thankful for having one fridge in town, she does hope to expand and get to areas that are more accessible for people. 

“The area we’re in now is in an industrial area and it's so great that we have it, but we need one downtown and in other areas where homelessness and poverty is being felt,” said Cabrera. “As it stands, we aren’t allowed to have one on city property, so we’re looking to businesses and people who want to help with a little piece of property.”

Anyone looking to donate to the community fridge can enter the fridge and place their items on the shelves. Any and all items are being accepted, particularly fresh and healthy food options. Diapers and personal care items are also being requested. 

As for what you can take, Cabrera wants people to not be shy.

“We have people taking minimal items and that's great. But if you need it, take it,” Cabrera said. “This fridge is here to help and we don’t want people to leave it and still be hungry."

More information on the Barrie Community Fridge is available by clicking here.