An idea that started in New York City to fight hunger has now made its way to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and soon San Jose.
Refrigerators filled with food for anyone who needs it are popping up in these cities. NBC Bay Area’s Cheryl Hurd found one plugged into a volunteer host family’s home in West Oakland. It was filled with produce, bread, water and guacamole. No raw meat is allowed.
Many families in the Bay Area wonder where their next meals will come from. Oakland resident Carlos is one of them. It’s the end of the month and he’s running low on cash, which means he’s running low on food. For him, this community fridge is a lifeline.
“It’s been really great,” said Carlos. “It really provides some sustenance. Got some eggs, some bread just a few things…that’s really all I need.”
That’s why organizers started the movement. They wanted people to have an alternative to hunger.
“There are some people a few blocks away, I hope they get the food they need,” said Kevin Gifford-Tinker of Oakland. “Some people just lost their jobs.”
A town fridge was outside of Pro Arts store for a few days, but the owner of the store said she received an email from the city telling her she had to bring it in because having it outside was illegal.
“It’s not perfect because it’s not accessible to the public,” she said. “So pretty much the idea of the project is defeated because it’s supposed to be free food for all.”
NBC Bay Area reached out to the city about the downtown project.
A spokesperson said in part, “This is new territory for the city. Although it’s part of what makes Oakland the amazing city that it is, we must also consider the health, safety and well-being of all of our community members.”
Officials said they are working on a solution that will make this unique project work.