At Myrtle Avenue and Adelphi Street, a refrigerator is stocked with free food for anyone who needs it. Joy Earley stops by regularly.
“It’s a terrible feeling to be hungry. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world,” she told NY1.
The refrigerator was put here last month by Clinton Hill Fort Greene Mutual Aid, a nonprofit group formed during the coronavirus crisis to help provide groceries to homebound residents.
“Mutual Aid is based on the idea that it’s not a charity,” said volunteer Sam Pawliger. “It’s an effort of neighbors to help each other. It’s born from the community and for the community.”
It’s that sense of community that keeps the refrigerator program operating smoothly, with about 100 volunteers who work in shifts.
“We have three people come by a day, morning, noon and night.” said volunteer Leigh Conner. “And that’s just to do the cleaning and make sure that everything is organized and clear and all the produce is ready to eat. And there’s nothing half eaten in the fridge.”
Other volunteers are in charge of picking up the food donated by local businesses.
“All of the food that goes in here is food that would otherwise be wasted,” explained Conner. “So all of it is excess. It’s from restaurants and businesses that have dented the packaging and they wouldn’t be able to sell the products or pastries or bread that are left over at the end of the day — that they would throw away because they’d be stale the next day.”
There are also shelves for non-perishable foods, a can opener for those who can’t wait to eat and bags to take items home.
Volunteers sort and package the fresh food and place “use by” dates on them. They say the most popular items are milk and eggs and they’re doing outreach to get more donors.
“I think it’s going to continue as long as it’s providing a valuable service to the community,” says Pawliger. “We’re seeing a lot of signs that with unemployment benefits changing, food insecurity is not going away. And this provides a resource for people who need to bridge a gap.”
That need is now being recognized and met by neighbors.