Leimert Park, CA–Community refrigerators have become extremely popular during the coronavirus pandemic. Bronx, New York was one of the first areas to see a refrigerator plugged outside of a local business, offering free food and produce to those who walked by.
Various Black and Brown communities in L.A County are seeing the idea popping up in their neighborhood, powered by local businesses and sustained by the mutual aid efforts of community members.
The Leimert Park community of Los Angeles now have their own community fridge, which is nestled snuggly outside Hot and Cool Cafe.
The coffee shop and vegan eatery have been coming up with creative ways to keep culture and business thriving during the coronavirus pandemic. Hot and Cool Cafe are now part of a growing movement where prominent business owners are hosting community refrigerators outside their businesses.
These are average people who understand the importance of community care and organizing, especially during trying times.
“I am really excited to be part of the effort that brought the fridge to life and we are hoping to make it as sustainable as possible,” said Kennedy Mitchell, 22.
Mitchell relayed their inspiration to be involved in the community fridge project comes from growing up in Leimert Park and the surrounding Inglewood area.
Mitchell was joined by Abby Magallanes, 25, and Fawlene Copeland, 26, to talk about the Leimert Park fridge on a warm July day at Hot and Cool. The trio represented only half of those involved in the community fridge project.
The Leimert Park fridge was made possible thanks to a donation by Los Angeles Community Fridges, a mutual aid group who were inspired by the work being done in New York.
Los Angeles Community Fridges had originally donated Magallanes a refrigerator so she could set up a community fridge in Bellflower. However, Magallanes relayed it was easier to set up in Leimert Park, because people were already used to mutual aid as a form of community support.
“I would say that is the most important component to this whole thing, finding a good host. Tony at Hot and Cool has been the best. He told us yes the first day we came in here which is how we were able to move forward so quickly,” Magallanes detailed.
The community refrigerators are usually placed in communities also known as food deserts, where healthy and affordable food options are not always accessible.
Los Angeles Community Fridge provided the group tons of information and resources on how to maintain the fridge, which empowered them to put the work in to make it happen.
“We are aware of the effect the pandemic is having on areas such as Leimert Park, as well as the unhoused folks. Gentrification and Metro development goes hand in hand changing the area. We wanted to find a spot that was central to all of this and central to the people we hope to serve,” Mitchell detailed.
The group are also mindful of the coronavirus as they use their time and resources to provide support to the Leimert Park community. To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the fridge is sanitized weekly and guidelines are outlined for those wishing to donate.
“We have a wonderful team who are going to come by weekly to sanitize the fridge and to make sure maintenance is upheld. Also, in our call for donations, we are asking for hand sanitizer, and hygiene products not just to pass out to our houseless folks but to make sure that we are also being hygienic,” said Mitchell.
If you are in need of food, you can check out these other community fridge locations in Los Angeles and Compton:
South Central Fridge: 8609 S Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90003
Mid City Fridge: 5044 W 21st Los Angeles, CA 90016
Highland Park Fridge: 5624 N Figueroa St Los Angeles, CA 90042
Long Beach Fridge: 1029 East 4th St Long Beach, CA 90802
Lil Mid City Fridge: 1412 S Redondo Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90019
Arlington Heights Fridge: 3804 W Pico Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90019
Exposition Park Fridge: 1436 W Jefferson Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90007
South Hill + W 28th St: 2817 S Hill St Los Angeles, CA 90007
East Hollywood Fridge: 4621 Santa Monica Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90029
Compton Fridge: 2125 W Compton Blvd Compton, CA 90220