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'Take what you need' | Norfolk neighbors keeping fridges stocked with free food

A grassroots group is stocking food year-round in an outside fridge, free for anyone in need.

NORFOLK, Va. — Neighbors in Norfolk are tackling food insecurity across Hampton Roads, one refrigerator at a time. A grassroots group is stocking food year-round in an outside fridge, free for anyone in need.

Take what you need, give what you can. That’s the slogan painted on a purple refrigerator in Ghent.

“Anybody can come here,” said organizer Indigo. “Anybody can take or give whatever they do need.”

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, anyone who’s hungry can help themselves to food in the fridge or pantry that sits next to it.

“This is all for the community, by the community,” said co-organizer Mx. “So that is exciting.”

Mx and Indigo kickstarted the 757 Community Fridges project after seeing them take off in Richmond. They placed one outside Mea Culpa Café last spring and said it’s fueling the community.

“In terms of who takes what or how much is taken, we don’t really keep track,” Mx said. “All we can say is when we put food in it, it gets taken by the next time we are out. That’s all that matters.”

The duo clean and add food to the fridge each week, but said the community keeps it stocked.

“We put it here because we knew that people did want to help,” Indigo said.

The guidelines for giving are simple: no raw meat, already opened, or expired food allowed.

“Kind of think about yourself, if you were to go into a fridge, what would you want to eat,” Indigo said. “And truly if you go by that, you can meet all the guidelines that are posted.”

For hungry neighbors, there is just one rule.

“Take everything but leave the fridge,” Mx said. “That is all we ask.”

Community support helped organizers add a second fridge in Norfolk, in front of Park’s Taekwondo Academy in Little Creek.

“They reached out to us, and they were super ecstatic,” Indigo said. “We all sat down and talking about it one night and it was really, really cool just seeing that because one fridge was out here, someone was like, 'Hey, let’s put one here, too.'”

The pantry is up and running at Park’s, but the fridge needs a bit more love.

“The exact date is to be determined but coming in the month of February, which is exciting,” Mx said.

Next time you head to the store, organizers hope you’ll think of your neighbor.

“That is what we are really hoping to inspire in people is that people want more fridges, that more communities can be fed that more people have a way to help each other through the fridges,” Indigo said.

The 757 Community Fridges project is always looking for donations to keep the fridges and pantries stocked, or volunteers to clean and look after them.

If you are interested in pitching in, you can contact the organizers here.

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