LA PLATA, Md. – SMADC, with a grant from the Rural Maryland Council’s RMPIF fund and additional assistance from other community partners, is piloting a Community Refrigerator Program for Southern Maryland. Community Fridges are a free food source that offers support to food insecure individuals and households to reduce local hunger, and to also utilize good food that would otherwise go to waste.
The first SMADC ‘SoMD Community Fridge’ will be launched in Charles County, in partnership with Christ Church Food Pantries. This pilot program will benefit communities facing food insecurity with 24-hour free food access to the local products in the fridge, which will be purchased weekly from qualified Southern Maryland farmers (those participating in SMADC’s Maryland Market Money Program) who have excess local farm products they would like to sell.
The Grand Opening of the Charles County Community Fridge is going to be held on Saturday, May 6th from 2-2:30 PM, however, food recovery is already happening at the Christ Church La Plata SoMD Community Fridge as part of a soft opening effort. SMADC program staff organized to make this resource to be available as soon as the fields were ready this spring. In the Food Access world, food recovery (or food rescue) means collecting edible food and redistributing it to feed people in need. This is the highest and best use for food that would otherwise go to waste. Feeding our hungry community members through food recovery is the best use for surplus food and a vital way for Southern Maryland to support farmers, conserve resources and reduce food waste in landfills.
The program is already making a difference, as evidenced by an email sent to SMADC on April 25th, which said, “This past week, a local family fell under harsh conditions due to a loss of utilities and income. This family has been struggling for years with elementary-age children living in substandard conditions without consistent resources,” said Neal Bankenstein, Pupil Personnel Worker at the Charles County Board of Education. He continued, “The family reached out to CCPS’s Pupil Personnel Workers who were thankful to receive support from the new Community Fridge zero-barrier free food program at Christ Church, La Plata. The family was provided propane (from the Church) and a car full of food (from the Community Fridge & the Church Pantry) to last them through this difficult time. The support and love provided by Christ Church is greatly needed and appreciated to our families in need!”
Wondering how to get involved?
- Allowed items:
- Whole fruits and vegetables
- Eggs and frozen meat
- Pre-packaged, non-potentially hazardous foods (shelf-stable), including baked goods and dry cereals
- Commercially packaged meals
- Homemade goods following Maryland Cottage Food Laws
- Donations must be labeled with: all ingredients, package date, expiration date, and any allergens.
- Allergens may include: dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat/gluten, soy, nuts
If you are a Southern Maryland farmer interested in diversifying revenue streams and supporting local food access, contact SoMDFridges@smadc.com. ALL FOOD & PANTRY DONATIONS CAN BE MADE DIRECTLY TO THE COMMUNITY FRIDGE LOCATED AT THE FOOD PANTRY OF CHRIST CHURCH LA PLATA.
Taking care of our fridges and community is a group effort. Please visit smadc.com/somdcommunityfridges for more information. If you are interested in gifting a monetary donation, please contact SoMDFridges@smadc.com. Visit ‘News & Events’ at SMADC.com for more details.