“Take what you need, leave what you can” is the motto of this big-city initiative.
Positioned next to a garden of fresh vegetables grown to feed the Englewood community sits The Love Fridge, Chicago’s first ever solar-powered community refrigerator. Using sustainable energy, the Chicago-based initiative nourishes the community through mutual aid by providing free resources for those in need. Donors stock the freestanding fridge, powered by solar panels, with food for others to eat.
“It’s a beautiful sentiment because we’re working on creating a sustainable system, to also think about the capacity, the energy capacity, of a site,” said Eric Von Haynes, Food Sovereignty and Mutual Aid advocate with The Love Fridge, in an interview with Fox32 Chicago.
Haynes says the initiative is working toward creating a completely sustainable system, with Englewood being the first location with a solar-powered fridge.
“We firmly believe that feeding oneself is not a privilege, but a right,” The Love Fridge website states.
“With food insecurity at an all-time high, keeping our communities fed is now more important than ever.”
According to Haynes, the mutual aid structure allows individuals from all over Chicago to “contribute what they have when they have.” The initiative is powered by kindness, generosity, and love through volunteers who work within their local neighborhoods and collaborations with partners to place refrigerators across the city.
“The 1st ever SOLAR POWERED community refrigerator (i.e. FREE FOOD) in Chicago has been up and running for two weeks now,” Keyante Aytch, co-founder of SunBend Solar, a partner of The Love Fridge, said in a Twitter post.
Reportedly, there are 24 fridges currently located throughout Chicago, including Englewood. The Love Fridge has received some outside funding but is mainly supplied by the community, with immediate efforts from the initiative’s leaders. To ensure food is accessible 24/7, community members are encouraged to sign up to volunteer by donating food and cleaning the fridges.
The refrigerators are painted by local artists that reflect their communities.