Take what you need, and leave what you can—that’s the concept behind the growing movement of community fridges popping up in cities across the U.S. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has been increasing the pressure on individuals struggling with food insecurity, communities have turned to mutual aid as an important source of relief. Mutual aid is a form of volunteer-run community organizing that helps provide those in need with goods and assistance. Community fridges are a simple form of this, allowing those with more than they need to redistribute their resources to those who may not be able to buy food. Some organizers are using the fridges as an opportunity to offer healthy vegan food to their community by asking for meat-, egg-, and dairy-free donations.
Here are some vegan community fridges and vegan-friendly mutual aid networks that you can use or support:
Overthrow Community Fridge (New York City)
New York City’s first all-vegan community fridge is located outside the Overthrow Boxing Club. Since it opened in February 2021, the community has kept it stocked with fresh produce, vegan cheese, vegan milk, and other staples. The organizers also set up a wooden pantry next to the fridge for shelf-stable items such as bread, rice, cookies, pasta, and canned goods.
Community Fridge SATX (San Antonio)
Community Fridge SATX offers fresh produce, nonperishables, canned goods, vegan meats, vegan milk, and personal-care products, all of which are donated by local businesses and individuals.
DaVillage Pop Up Shop (Charlotte, North Carolina)
Founder Shamelle Jackson organized the DaVillage Pop Up Shop in an effort to provide low-income families in her community with healthy food options during the pandemic. One of the DaVillage community fridges is fully vegan and stocked with produce, tofu, prepared vegan meals, and more.
SF/Bay Area Mutual Aid Support (San Francisco)
This Bay Area mutual aid network helps provide the city’s most vulnerable with low-waste vegan care kits. If you live in the area and want to volunteer to prepare some vegan meals, here’s how you can sign up.
ABQ Mutual Aid (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
ABQ Mutual Aid receives food donations from local restaurants, stores, and farmers to redistribute to those in need in the Albuquerque area. Since the start of the pandemic, the group has been putting together weekly food boxes for families, and with the help of Animal Protection of New Mexico, it has made vegan boxes available as part of that service.
Food Not Bombs DTLA (Los Angeles)
The downtown Los Angeles branch of Food Not Bombs is a mutual aid organization that serves weekly vegan meals to the houseless community and redistributes nonfood donations of toiletries, clothing, and other goods.
Food Not Bombs Isla Vista (Isla Vista, California)
Another branch of Food Not Bombs, this Isla Vista, California, group serves healthy vegan meals made with fresh produce that would otherwise go to waste.
How Can I Set Up My Own Vegan Community Fridge?
The tips below can help you start a vegan community fridge in your area. Be sure to ask for vegan donations only—that means no meat, eggs, dairy, honey, or any other animal-derived items or ingredients. Consider placing a bookshelf next to your fridge so that people can leave canned goods, spices, and other nonperishable items that don’t need to be refrigerated.
Why Vegan Mutual Aid?
The goal of mutual aid organizing is to create a community based on equality and compassion. To achieve that, animals should also be taken into consideration. Additionally, vegan food is often less expensive, healthier, and better for the environment. To learn more about the benefits of going vegan, check out our guide: