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You’ve heard of Little Free Libraries. Maybe you’ve helped fill a Little Free Pantry. Now, thanks to a local chef in Fayetteville, there’s a new way to help locals in need, and share in a time when sharing is more important than ever.
St. Paul’s Episcopal and Mount Sequoyah Center chef Kaitlyn Rush recently unveiled the first-ever (well, as far as we know) Friendly Fridge in Fayetteville, a take-what-you-need refrigerator located near the east entrance of the church (224 N East Ave.)
Rush said she read about the concept, which had popped up in and around Brooklyn and the Bronx in New York, online. That led her to the official Instagram account, which led her to think about how she could apply the concept of a Friendly Fridge right here in Fayetteville.
As a chef at the church who has been working to prepare their twice-weekly community meals, Rush knew exactly where to locate it.
“I instantly thought of St. Paul’s, where I knew there was electricity outside, and I had an extra fridge, and I just thought, ‘This is perfect, we have to do this,’” she said.
The Friendly Fridge, she said, just kind of helps to fill in some gaps.
Photo: Courtesy, Kaitlyn Rush
“You think about dropping off a box of mac and cheese (at a little free pantry), but what about the milk?” she said. “The refrigerator allows you to fill in for some of those things when you are thinking about ‘How can I make this into a meal.’”
Rush said that anyone can drop off items to help stock the Friendly Fridge.
“Our motto is ‘Take what you need, leave what you can,’” she said.
In addition to individuals, several local restaurants have already reached out to help fill the refrigerator.
“I immediately heard from Adrienne Shaunfield from Farmers’ Table who wanted to be involved. Hugo’s has given us a ton of stuff, we have a box of tomatoes, lettuce, a huge thing of bread, turkey. They have been great.”
Wood Stone Craft Pizza has also helped to stock the fridge, and local artist Brandon Bullette has offered to paint the refrigerator to help bring attention to it. Others have also reached out to help.
“We really have an incredible local business community here,” Rush said.
Refrigerated items from the grocery store like protein, milk, eggs, cheese, vegetables, and other items are welcome in the fridge, as are prepared meals, though those should be carefully labeled and dated. The refrigerator also has a freezer, so frozen items can be dropped off as well.
Rush said she has been stocking the refrigerator herself especially on Mondays and Wednesdays with leftovers from St. Paul’s community meals served that day. Items, though, have been moving through the Friendly Fridge pretty fast.
“That is one of the things I have really noticed is the need is really evident during the community meal days,” she said. “People are hungry. It is really heartbreaking.”
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