The Baton Rouge Community Fridge seeks to tackle local food insecurity through mutual-aid food pantries, where people give what they can and take what they need.
There are currently two locations for the food pantries: 1600 Government St and 2303 Government St. The pantries are entirely sustained by volunteer donations, cooking, cleaning and maintenance.
“Emphasizing solidarity over charity, our aim is to provide our community members with a way to take care of each other,” the mission statement on the community fridge website reads.
Neighbors looking out for neighbors is the foundation of any strong community. In many cases, mutual aid like the Baton Rouge Community Fridge is a simpler and more humanizing approach to solving local issues than inadequate governmental assistance.
Though the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps millions of Americans, many report that the benefits fail to cover all their needs. In 2014, almost a third of SNAP recipients still needed the assistance of food banks to make ends meet.
Instead of filing countless proofs of employment and income, only to receive a paltry allowance, neighbors in need can just pick up food from the community fridge, no strings attached.
And there is a great need for pantries like these in Baton Rouge, as well as Louisiana and the country as a whole. According to Feeding America, over 700,000 Louisiana residents—including almost a quarter-of-a-million children—face food insecurity.
During the earlier months of the pandemic, millions of Americans turned to food banks for the first time. Now, about 20 months after initial lockdowns, food insecurity remains above pre-pandemic levels.
Tens of millions of Americans face hunger, but there is still an all-too-common stigma around accessing food assistance. Efforts such as the Baton Rouge Community Fridge help eliminate that stigma.
If you are able to assist, the fridge is always accepting food donations, particularly for popular staples like pasta and milk. The fridge also appreciates cleaning volunteers and monetary donations through its Venmo (@brcommunityfridge) and GoFundMe.
You can visit https://brcommunityfridge.com to find more information about donation guidelines, volunteer needs and how to access the pantries.
Claire Sullivan is a 19-year-old coastal environmental science sophomore from Southbury, CT.