Newly located across NYC are colorfully painted fridges stocked with fruits, vegetables, and ready-made meals. "For the community and by the community," these fridges are "Giving free food to those most in need." The Southside Action Pact, directed by Farudh Emiel, was launched in December 2020, and he hasn't slowed down since.
However, within the community, Emiel has another name; "Fridge boy." His first fridge was installed outside of his long-time barber, Dave Khan's shop. He, according to Farudh, has not only been taking care of his hair for over 10 years but has become a close friend.
So, when Emiel asked to install a fridge for his Southside Action Pact outside of the shop, Dave, of course, said yes! The fridge focuses on "Mutual aid," a concept in which community members volunteer to help each other without anything in return. Thus, Farudh decided to take action on a widescale level.
"Everybody Eats" and "Eat, Pray, Love" are painted across many of the community fridges, reminding those in need that they deserve to stop by and grab what they need. Starting out with only 10 fridges throughout the city in 2019, the Action Pact has expanded to a whopping 130 fridges in 2021!
The fridges are stocked via donations on Venmo and local community members dropping off their extra food on their own time. The fridge-filler network stays in close connection these days, thanks to social media. On top of that, the group has dozens of volunteers that clean and restock the fridges daily.
According to Emiel, the reason the fridge model works so well is due to the accessibility. He further explained that it's more comfortable to take what is needed when the one in need knows that the resources are being supplied by "Your own folks" or other community members in the area, not by the government.
So, how can you start a fridge location of your own? It's as easy as; launch a social media page to get community buy-in, find a host, get a donated fridge, and organize a group of volunteers to stock the appliance. For more information on how to get involved with this community-driven project, check out @SouthSideActionPact.