NEW YORK (CBS News) - With millions of Americans out of work, and families going hungry, a new movement spreading across the country called “community refrigerators” is helping.
Feeding America estimates 54 million Americans, including 18 million children, could lack steady access to food this year.
Selma Raven and her partner, Sara Allen, put a colorful fridge on the corner of 242nd and Broadway in the Bronx, New York.
“It’s a way of putting food in a place that’s accessible to everyone that needs it during this time,” Allen says.
The Last Stop bar offered a power outlet to keep the fridge running 24-7.
People fill the fridges with free, healthy food at a time when so many families are struggling.
“You see the need. You see the real need. People are still not making ends meet,” Raven says.
Nick Garcia just lost his job as a painter, and the community fridge has been a lifeline for him.
“Words can’t even explain how helpful this is for me personally, you know, I’m going through a struggle, it’s really saved my life,” he says.
Take what you need, leave what you can. It’s a simple idea, but one that’s grown beyond anyone’s expectation. New York already has more than a dozen community fridges with more on the way. They’re popping up in other cities like Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.
The fridges are all independently run. It’s a true community effort. “We were just a block of people and now, it is a community. It really is,” Raven says.
Now that word is spreading, people are lining up to help. Frank Betts, who lost his own job because of the pandemic, brought what he could to restock the fridge.
“When I saw this on TV I said I gotta be a part of it, I’ve gotta start donating what I have,” he says.
The organizers say if you want to help, check to see if there’s a community fridge in your area. Food banks and shelters also need donations more than ever.