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As Food Insecurity Surges, Local Non-Profit Creates Bushwick Community Fridge to be Operated by Workers with Disabilities

A new community fridge project will supply local residents with fresh produce three times a week.
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A new community fridge was opened by Services for the UnderServed at 1109 Bushwick Ave. in Brooklyn on Nov. 4. Photo: Provided/ S:US. Credit: S:US

As the cost of living continues to rise, Services for the UnderServed is turning its efforts toward food insecurity in Brooklyn.

“We are thrilled to launch the Community Fridge Project alongside State Senator Julia Salazar and food pantries -- Let your Heart Not Be Troubled and 9 Million Reasons,” Monica Santos, chief operations officer for S:US, said.

S:US is a nonprofit organization that drives solutions to transform the lives of people with disabilities and people facing homelessness.

In the midst of the pandemic, the organization began looking at how it could help those experiencing food insecurity. Ultimately, program coordinators settled on the Community Fridge Project.

The project will see community fridges installed and replenished with fresh fruits and vegetables three times per week. Produce will come from the organization’s gardening program, Urban Farms.

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities that are part of S:US’s Day Habilitation programming will manage the fridges.

“These fridges will not only benefit surrounding communities but also provide the people in our day programs with a meaningful opportunity to serve at the local level,” Santos said.

State Senator Julia Salazar checks out the new S:US 'freedge.' Photo: Provided/S:US.
State Senator Julia Salazar checks out the new S:US 'freedge.' Photo: Provided/S:US.

“The Community Fridge Project offers people with I/DD meaningful opportunities to support and engage with their local community, which is proven to improve the quality of their life and mental health," Jorge Petit, CEO of S:US, said.

Petit joined Santos and Salazar to unveil the project’s first fridge, located at 1109 Bushwick Ave. in Bushwick on On Nov. 4.

"It also allows our organization to help fight hunger amid surging food prices and rising rates of food insecurity in our city,” he added.

The Bushwick Avenue community fridge will be part of a larger program by S:US. The organization plans to expand the program in more neighborhoods across the five boroughs pending additional funding.

“As the number of people facing poverty and food insecurity rises across our city, we need community initiatives that work closely with the people whose needs are most often overlooked,” Salazar said.

“S:US’s launch of these community fridges is an important step toward building our communities and creating opportunities for all.”

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