Five individuals saw a need for an accessible food supply within the Saskatoon Riversdale area that prompted them to start a project.
The Riversdale Community Fridge project will be receiving a 24-hour accessible community fridge in April, which will provide food for those in need in the Riversdale neighbourhood. The project was started by five University of Saskatchewan alumni: Cleo Nguyen, Julianna Sparks, Renata Cosic, Danielle Lange and Nikaela Lange.
Lange says the project was built from a mutual aid framework. She says that the basis of their mutual aid initiative is for people to take responsibility for their community and take care of the people within it.
“There’s no hierarchy — it’s just supporting one another,” Lange said. “Solidarity not charity, that’s our motto.”
A community fridge is an accessible source of food for people in the area. People are able to leave food in the fridge as well as take as much as they need. With a few restrictions, such as raw meat, people can donate what they wish at their own leisure.
To help with the project, people can drop off food for the fridge and shelves, volunteer their time by going on grocery runs and donate money to the project.
Since the project is volunteer-based, those involved are doing their part to improve their area and enhance the lives of their neighbors, says Lange.
The project’s priorities include distribution of food to those in need, advocacy for change within the community and mobilization of opportunities for volunteers.
With these priorities in mind, the project organizers are hoping to collaborate with other organizations that can donate excess food to the fridges, allowing for people to take as much as they need.
Lange says that with lots of support from the community and supplies being donated, things are beginning to come together.
“We have some fridges that have been donated [and] are ready to go. We’re just trying to get permits and trying to find labour to help us build,” said Lange.
The community fridge will be found on 20th Street and Avenue D, but the exact location is to be announced within the next month. The fridge will be accessible to many with the location being central in the Riversdale area.
In order to keep the fridges and shelves stocked with food, the organizers need donations for grocery runs. Lange says that donations will also go towards any repairs that need to be made if the fridges have electrical problems.
The RCF currently has a donation goal of $5,000 and is on track to achieving it through a GoFundMe campaign page. Lange says it is exciting to see how much people want to get involved and take part in the project.
“The support so far has been really inspiring and encouraging going forward,” Lange said.
The next steps for the group will be signing the contract with the organization hosting the fridges and shelves, ensuring their permits are in order and getting food and supplies ready, says Lange.
People can follow along the project on the Riversdale Community Fridge social media pages and will be able to sign up for volunteer shifts in the near future as the fridges are installed.
With the people of Saskatoon’s continued support, Lange is confident the Riversdale community fridge project will fulfill its goal of providing food for those in need through their solidarity initiative.
“A lot of people have been sharing our social media posts and a lot of people are donating; a lot of people have already been messaging asking how they can get involved,” Lange said. “It’s been a really inspiring experience just seeing how much people want to get involved.”
Holly Gilroy | Contributing Reporter
Graphic: Kristine Jones | Culture Editor