For our June edition of Friends of CFCR, we are so excited to be shining a big spotlight on Riversdale Community Fridge.
The Riversdale Community Fridge was established in January 2021 by a small team of community members who wanted to help in addressing food insecurity and poverty in Saskatoon. The idea is 24/7 access to free food from your neighbours, for your neighbours. We try to provide nutritious food to relieve and prevent hunger while addressing food waste via our collaboration with local businesses and community partners.
We are inspired by the work being done by other pre-existing groups who have been contributing to the effort, and hope that our project can inspire others to replicate their own efforts of mutual aid.
What types of programs do you offer? What’s your most successful program?
We don't do programming, we just exist. Take what you need, leave what you can, 24/7.
How have you seen your organization’s work make a difference?
We do not keep track of the number of people who take food or donate food to the fridge, any demographics, etc. The fridge is open 24/7, is unstaffed, and operates on the honour system, so we will never know the extent of the difference that it makes. However, we know from talking to people accessing the fridge, whether taking or donating, that it is important to people. We see this in the way that people have taken responsibility for the fridge, the way that everyone pitches in to clean and take care of the fridge, the way that people take the initiative to fix things that are broken without being asked, the way that businesses donate without advertising that they do, they way that people bring food from their own cupboards and grocery bags to fill the fridge.
What are any challenges or obstacles your organization has faced? How were they overcome?
We have recently been asked by the city to move from our previous spot on Avenue D and 20th outside of PAVED Arts. We had some issues there with businesses in the area that didn’t like us because they felt we are impacting their business. People reported us to the city for minor bylaw violations, like the doors of the fridge being left open, or there being garbage on the street. All we can do is work with the city in our new location to resolve complaints, schedule volunteers to clean up the garbage as often as we can, and encourage everyone to take responsibility for the community fridge.
What is something that you wish more people knew about your organization?
We are entirely volunteer run. No-one who works on this project is paid to do so. We clean, stock, and maintain the fridge in addition to working at our jobs, taking care of our families, going to school, etc.
How can the community help your organization reach its goals?
Donate. Make donating food a part of your grocery routine or donate some money if you can, or donate your labour if that is something you can offer. Share our social media on your own social media to raise awareness. Feel free to take what you need from the community fridge and encourage others to do the same. Clean it when it is dirty. Put garbage in the garbage can. The success of the community fridge relies on all of us.
What volunteer opportunities are there within your organization?
We do volunteer intake a few times a year! Volunteers can sign up to clean the fridge, to clean the streets surrounding the fridge, or to pick up donations from grocery stores and business. Most volunteer shifts are independent jobs that can be done in 30 minutes or less and at the convenience of the volunteer. You can also keep an eye on our social media to find out about odd-jobs as they come up, such as minor maintenance jobs.
What about fundraising or donating opportunities?
We accept almost all donations all the time. Food and hygiene products can be dropped off directly at the fridge at the donors convenience. We accept almost all food except for raw meat, expired foods, leftover or half-eaten foods, alcohol, and homemade goods. More detailed donation guidelines can be found on our website. Monetary donations can be etransferred to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Riversdale Community Fridge is now located at 315 Avenue M S in the CUMFI parking lot!
Click the links below to find out more information about how you can be involved!