NORFOLK, Va. — Priscilla Queen, a restaurant owner, has had an idea to help Hampton Roads for years. She wanted to bring a refrigerator to a neighborhood in need and leave free food inside.
"My inspiration for the fridge is just really trying to help people," Queen said.
So, she brought the fridge to Olney Road in Norfolk.
"I knew that there was a need, especially in this area, after the Save-A-Lot closed in 2020," she said.
Not only did the Save-A-Lot close, but the Family Dollar store caught fire in 2022, leaving this area in a food desert.
Queen ran into one problem, "I had a fridge, and I just needed electricity."
She was invited to Pharrell Williams' Mighty Dream Forum in November of 2022, where she met Khalya Walker, who works with a local non-profit called Teens With a Purpose.
"We performed at Mighty Dream," Walker said. "Some of our poets performed. One of our teenagers DaQuan [Garnett], he did a poem about how there are no grocery stores here, and he did a plea for help."
Garnett's poem talks about food scarcity and highlights how the community struggles.
"After Daquan said his poem, my thought was somebody has to listen," Walker said. "We are in a room full of trillionaires and billionaires and a lot of people who had money and stuff like that. And in my head, I knew for a fact it was going to be somebody that usually gets looked over that was going to help Daquan."
There was an event at the forum where people could discuss food scarcity. Both Queen and Walker attended.
"I went there trying to see what the efforts are and to help DaQuan and make sure someone heard his cry, and Priscilla did just that. She heard his cry, and she did something about it," Walker nodded with a smile on her face.
Queen said: "After all these conversations, Khayla said, 'I love everything we are talking about, but what are we going to do right now?' And that was a very powerful moment because I was like, 'Yes, I want to do something right now.'"
Then, she told them about her idea for a community fridge but needed somewhere to plug it in. Walker immediately knew this was it.
"I was like, 'What? Girl, come on! Come on to 700 E Olney Road, girl. We are going to do this,'" Walker said.
The community fridge, Not Your Last Supper, sits on the Olney Road side of the Teens With A Purpose building.
"I've seen so many people open the fridge. I have been so excited," Walker said.
This fridge is more than just a place to store goods. Queen wants to ensure it's a place where you can grab an entire meal.
"Usually, community fridges just put produce, uncooked food, canned goods, things like that. But there are a lot of houseless neighbors in this area that don't have the means to cook food," Queen said. "It's a time factor, too. So many families don't have time to make meals together."
These meals are ready for anyone to grab and go. "You have to eat well, to feel well, to live well, you know," Queen said.
Queen said that she is ready to keep this initiative going as long as she can.
"I actually opened it up today, and the fridge emptied about two to three days faster than it did our first time, and I'm kind of getting a little choked up about it because it proves there's a need," Queen said.
A need brought to light by DaQuan's plea: "I've seen him so excited," Walker said. "I've seen him like bring people over and tell them, 'It's okay, you don't have to go hungry. We have food in our community fridge.'"
Walker said she's happy that they can do something.
"Just to see a look of relief on people's faces that they can eat something, that they can feed their child, or that they can go to sleep with something in their stomach. It's just so heartwarming because you know the people needed it, and now you gave hope to them," Walker said. "And it's like, I never want to see a hopeless face again."
They know this fridge is not a restaurant or a grocery store, but they say it's a step in the right direction.
"I don't want Daquans dream to go down. I would encourage people, let's come together. We are stronger together," Walker said.
"If you have the time and the availability and the effort behind it, you can help people with very little effort," Queen said.
If you want to donate to the fridge, you can make a physical donation by reaching out to Queen through the fridge's Instagram.
Additionally, if you would like to make a monetary donation, there is a Spot Fund created by Teens With a Purpose where you can donate.
If you need food, do not be ashamed. This fridge is there to help. All you have to do is open it and take what you need. The refrigerator is outside Norfolk's Teen With a Purpose building on 700 East Olney Road.