Is the war against hunger won at the community level?
By: Jennifer Spadafora
Mr. Rogers, America’s favorite virtual educator famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Between all the riots, mandates, unemployment, and uncertainty in the wake of COVID-19, emerged a helping hand in the form of the now popular Forest Avenue COMEunity Fridge project.
After returning home due to the pandemic, college graduate, Alexandra Shoneyin saw a need in her Mariners Harbor community and got to work filling it. She recruited friends; Oksana Bento, Nia Simone Smith, Maimouna Faye, Folashade Fakoya, Irima Ajang, and Jasmine Chong, to start a program that would supply her in-need neighbors with fresh, quality, and healthy foods.
According to FoodBankNYC, nearly 13% of New Yorkers face food insecurity daily, and Shoneyin, along with Good 2 Go Barber Shop who shoulders the refrigerators electricity, has taken a stand against that number to ensure Staten Island is on par with community refrigerators in NYC such as, Barrio Fridge, Van Buren Fridge, and the Friendly Fridge who lead the way in combating hunger within their respective communities.
Pantry shelves also reside and are stocked under the new wooden hub (built with help by @chefsarah_si and painted by @debbieroxx) located on Amity Place, off of Forest Avenue. At the heart of this project is the concept that all the participants care so deeply about which was perfectly put into words by Shoneyin who said, ”Together, we were able to create a beautiful project that reflects many of the issues we care about – empowering Black and Brown communities, promoting concepts like interdependence, unity, love, and healthy eating.”
In Our Hearts (a NYC based collective) donated the fridge, the constant stream of prepared meals, fresh produce, and canned items which have come from friends of the fridge founder who want to be part of the solution on a COMEunity level. To be a part of the increasing contributors, you can cash app them at $forestavefridge. The money collected will go directly to funding the fridge. Additionally, you can drop off bags of fresh produce, lean meats, tofu, gluten free pasta, and whole grains at the location at any time or pick up what is needed to feed yourself and your family. The fridge is never locked nor closed, offering accessibility to all.