SAN DIEGO (KOGO) – Three months after it was created, the City Heights Community Fridge has become a welcome addition to the East San Diego neighborhood.
“The community overall, we have gotten a lot of support from them,” says Naomy Espinosa, one of the organizers of the City Heights Community Fridge. “We’ve had a lot of businesses be like, can we donate food, we can do this or try to collaborate with us, other organizations as well.”
Since January 2021, the fridge and a small shelf next to it for canned goods has been stocked almost daily with the donations from registered volunteers and neighbors who drop off food items. One of those neighbors is Heidi Vega who says she’s dropped off extra food her daughters received from school lunches or extra items she’s purchased from the grocery store.
“It’s good for the community so people can come by and get things that people don’t want so they don’t go to the trash,” Vega says.
Another one of the organizers, Liliana Soriano, says the group was inspired to do something for their community after the North Park Community Fridge was shut down.
“We just came together and decided that it would be a great idea to collectively put up a fridge where people could bring stuff that they don’t need any more and people can take anything they want when they wanted to,” Soriano says.
The fridge is in a small shed in an alleyway off Wightman Street between Wilson Avenue and 35th street. In addition to food items, personal hygiene products, socks and masks are sometimes available. Community fridges have also popped up in Otay Mesa and National City, as well as in neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.
The concept began as a project to redistribute food to neighbors in Berlin, Germany back in 2014, and since then, has spread to communities throughout Europe, the Middle East, South America and other parts of the globe. The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic brought further interest in community fridges in California and across the U.S.