Community fridge could close without volunteer help
The Elmhurst Community Fridge that serves the neighborhoods of Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona could be shut down in the near future without the help of more volunteers.
The community fridge, located at 77-02 Woodside Avenue, has been open for two years and offers donated food and pantry items for a community hit hard by the pandemic.
But as March winds down, volunteers are finding themselves short-staffed and on the brink of closing the community refrigerator. Organizer Sean Sutherland attributes the lack of volunteers to both burnout and people going back to work.
“It’s become very difficult to operate with barely even a skeleton crew,” Sutherland said. “Three consistent volunteers just isn’t enough.”
Sutherland says the core volunteers of the community fridge decided about a month ago to shut down the fridge if they couldn’t give it the proper upkeep it deserves.
He says volunteers are needed to clean the refrigerator and to pick up food that has already been donated or pre-paid for.
“We have a lot of people who depend on us in the neighborhood for meals,” Sutherland said. “Thankfully we’re turning a corner on the amount of donations we receive.”
The community fridge has a number of different entities including several local bakeries and food stands in the area donating food on all different days of the week. Recently it’s been more of a deficit of volunteers than either money or food donations.
“We still don’t have enough people to pick those donations up,” Sutherland said. “I think we need 10-15 people who are consistent and some backup people, so at least 20.”
He estimates that the community fridge feeds about 40-50 people per week.
Volunteers in the area who are available to volunteer a half-hour every week of picking up donated food and dropping it off at the community fridge are encouraged to visit https://linktr.ee/ElmhurstCommunityFridge2 to volunteer. Additional help is also needed to clean the fridge a minimum of three times per week.
“You want a clean fridge,” Sutherland said. “You want some pride.”