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Community Fridges: How Mutual Aid Builds Strong Communities

Have you ever heard of a community fridge? If not, you’re not alone! Community fridges are said to have started in Germany back in 2012, when a group called Foodsharing started putting leftover food (that would have otherwise been thrown out) into refrigerators around Berlin in an effort to combat food waste. Since then, community fridges have been popping up in cities and towns all over the world and have become an important aspect of mutual aid for many communities.

Vancouver’s own Community Fridge Project currently has five fridges set up throughout the city to help people access barrier-free, fresh food, no questions asked. Little free pantries, a grassroots initiative started in Arkansas in 2016, have also become a mainstay in many Vancouver communities, offering non-perishable goods in various locations. Both projects are volunteer run and rely on both food donations and donations of time from community members to prosper.

What is mutual aid?

Contrary to popular belief, mutual aid is not charity. The goal of mutual aid is to build and continue social relations where people give what they can and get what they need, outside of unjust systems of power. Mutual aid is tantamount in building strong, resilient communities, and has been essential in reforming once-established communities post-COVID.

Why are strong communities so important?

Our communities help shape our understanding of the world. They provide a support network, resources, and oftentimes a sense of purpose and belonging. These things are all part of the framework of our social systems and require collaborative effort and communication to foster growth. We all need meaningful connections, and strong communities help these connections form!

Every day there are examples of why resilient communities are important, and why mutual aid is necessary in their development. When we help each other, we help ourselves.

Want more information on community fridges?

Check out the Vancouver Community Fridge Project to see how you can get involved. Whether it's by donating food, your time, or even hosting a fridge, there are numerous ways to get involved to support your community and provide mutual aid!

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