Mutual aid during COVID-19: Eugene Community Fridge

Continuing my interviews with mutual aid groups on their work during the pandemic, I spoke with the folks behind Eugene Community Fridge. You can check them out over on Instagram

What is Eugene Community Fridge and how was it founded?

The Eugene Community Fridge is a grassroots community project that was founded due to the lack of low to no-barrier food access venues or agencies. Inspired by and following suit of In Our Hearts, NYC, the LA community fridge, and PDX free fridge, Eugene Community Fridge aims to provide a space in which fresh foods, such as produce and pre-made meals, can be accessed 24/7 with no barriers, meaning, no one has to pay or donate anything in order to use the fridge/pantries.

It was founded when Tamarack pool had shut down, and there were excess refrigerators – the next steps were trying to find different people/locations to host the fridge. Once one of our locations was set up, Eugene Community Fridge was officially up and running.

What are some of the COVID protocols that you have put in place to keep people safe?

Since our fridges are located outdoors, there is not a worry about limiting the amount of people that can access the fridges in question, though, we do suggest/recommend via signs that people do stay six feet apart from one another, especially if they see another party using the fridge first.

Our current protocols around COVID is to have daily cleanings that are set up twice, to disinfect and clean out the fridge. We often try to provide hand sanitizer at the fridge so folks can feel safe using and touching the fridge. Beyond that, we are relying on the community to practice common social distancing rules.

What has been the most challenging for your organization in operating during the pandemic?

To be honest, I do not think that the pandemic has gotten in the way of trying to operate our organization. Projects like this such as free pantries, free libraries, and free fridges, often are self-sustained projects in which the extra work that is required is just reaching out to vendors and possible donors and making sure that people are maintaining upkeep of the fridges.

How can the community help your effort?

Donate! Ask for donations on the fridges behalf! Ask around to your neighbors or landlord if they would like to host a fridge. Using excess money you have from your budget or food stamps to buy an extra pack, or two of prepared food! Anything goes, really.

We currently have a linktree, under Eugenecommunityfridge, that has links to sign up for cleaning the fridges at our two locations, and one other form to sign up for participating in work beyond just daily maintenance of the fridge.