What happens when eliminating food waste and community volunteers collide? Change that can unite communities for the better.
Thank goodness for volunteers - in hospitals, airports and at events, food pantries and almost everywhere in most communities. In essence the world and many populations rely on volunteers to survive.
When Sue Flak, a SENFC Board member and Sunrise Rotary Club of Vero Beach member presented the concept of a Community Fridge to her fellow Rotarians and the city leaders of Fellsmere, Florida (near Vero Beach). She received immediate support - and even a donor for the fridge itself. It opened officially on February 26th, 2022 so will soon be celebrating its one year anniversary.
What is a Community Fridge? Quite simply it typically is a household size refrigerator. Sometimes with a pantry. In communities with known food insecurity, food is positioned in an easily accessed and safe location. Food items are donated, and food items are used with the mantra “Take what you need, leave what you can.” Sue Flak shared the purpose of a community fridge “to reduce food waste, build stronger communities and promote equal access to healthy food.”
And now meet Gail Deroy and Linda Scalco, also members of the Sunrise Rotary Club and avid volunteers for the Fellsmere Fridge. They deliver food, some donated and some paid for out of their own pockets. According to Gail, “As a special education teacher in Rhode Island before retiring and moving to Vero Beach, I have always appreciated that not all people have the same opportunities. Now, when I drop off food at the Fellsmere Fridge and see happy faces coming to take some food, it is heart warming and with huge self satisfaction”. Linda, a former school counselor in New Jersey, added, “I really feel what gratitude is all about and feel it in my heart on every visit”.
They both acknowledged there are many volunteers supporting the Fellsmere Fridge and are happy to be involved. “Fellsmere Police Chief Keith Touchberry has been particularly supportive,” added Linda. While the corporate donors list is long, Gail recognizes a few regular donors - Publix, Panera, the Food Pantry of Indian River County, and the Shining Light Garden Foundation. These help to ensure that community needs are met by the community, allowing us all to benefit in the rewards of depleting food waste.