PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One in five Philadelphians deals with food insecurity — a number expected to grow as COVID-19 continues to impact employment. A local business owner is trying to get food to those who need it, one brightly colored refrigerator at a time.
Like a breath of frigid air on a hot day, a yellow refrigerator is providing sweet relief.
“We do an analysis of the neighborhood. We just don’t plop a fridge somewhere,” Michelle Nelson, founder of Mama-Tee Community Fridge, said.
Mama-Tee is an online apparel store that speaks to issues of equality and injustice.
“Off of that brand, we felt we wanted to add something that was on the ground, socially impactful,” Nelson said.
So two weeks ago, up popped the Mama-Tee Community Fridge at 635 West Girard, outside of the Ambassador Restaurant in Fishtown.
What does it offer? Well, free food, namely fresh produce. Take what you need, leave what you don’t.
“What we are discovering is the timing could not be better because with high unemployment due to COVID we find that a lot of the population that does utilize the fridge are from all walks of life,” Nelson said.
“If there’s excess food leftover, why not give it to people that need it?” Fishtown resident Billy Odgen said.
The Community Fridge has attracted so much attention that Nelson quickly established a second location on Coral Street, near Franny Lou’s Porch in Kensington. A third fridge is set to pop up at 9th and Spring Garden Streets.
“We average about 12 to 15 people per fridge fill up so if we fill up the fridge maybe three times a day, you could feed 45 people,” Nelson said.
Nelson’s goal is to add 17 more community refrigerators by the end of 2020.
“If you take that 45 and multiply it by our goal of 20, you’re talking about almost 1,000 people that could be fed,” Nelson said.
If you are interested in donating food, think fresh fruits and vegetables.
Mama-Tee Community Fridge is seeking monetary donations and corporate sponsorships to help with daily fillups.