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As Hunger Rises, Community Fridges Offer Free Food In Fort Worth

The Funky Town Fridge community pantry in Fort Worth's Southside. Volunteers stock the fridge and shelves, and people can take whatever they need, for free.
The Funky Town Fridge community pantry in Fort Worth's Southside. Volunteers stock the fridge and shelves, and people can take whatever they need, for free.

Funky Town Fridge, a community fridge program in Fort Worth, is expanding to a third neighborhood as the COVID-19 pandemic has Texans struggling to feed themselves and their families.

In a U.S. Census Bureau survey in November, nearly 2.6 million adults in Texas reported they sometimes or often didn’t have enough food to eat in the last week. Of those, 66% were Hispanic or Black, according to the Texas Tribune, which also reports that food banks might not have enough to feed everyone that comes to them for help in 2021.

Fort Worth has the Funky Town Fridge program to relieve some of that pressure. Since September, founder Kendra Richardson has established two fridges in two neighborhoods, Southside and Poly. Donors stock the fridges, and people can take whatever they need, for free.

Richardson, a teacher, started Funky Town Fridge after being inspired by other community pantries online. She’s focused on opening fridges in Black and brown communities.

People who might scoff at this summer’s anti-racism protests won’t have a problem donating food, which is another way to work towards racial justice, she said.

"I knew it was something that people would see, and they would help with it and wouldn't even realize how much of an impact or how much of a change they were creating just by bringing a can of soup to it," she said.

The Southside fridge is tucked in an industrial corner of the neighborhood. It’s painted in bright, welcoming colors, with cartoon fruits and vegetables smiling on the wall behind it.

Early on Monday afternoon, the shelves next to the fridge were full with canned goods, bags of split peas, bread and hamburger buns. Offerings in the fridge itself were sparse — just a few sweet potatoes, a couple containers of yogurt and some English muffins.

On the Funky Town Fridge Facebook page, Richardson often posts pictures of the fridges’ empty shelves, asking people for donations. Demand has been high, she said, and the need is not new — especially in neighborhoods that have little access to fresh groceries.

Funky Town Fridge’s motto is “Solidarity, not charity.” To Richardson, that represents people going into neighborhoods they may have never set foot in before, to give without getting anything in return.

“We’re not a nonprofit, so then that helps break down the barriers of capitalism. So then you can give something but you know that you can’t write off as a tax,” Richardson said with a laugh.

The fridges are also a way for the community to take care of itself, Richardson said. She wants them to become self-sustaining, so they will continue to thrive even if she steps back from organizing them.

Of course, she’s not done yet. A new Como location will launch with a drive-thru fridge stocking event on December 19.

You can find each fridge at the following locations:

SOUTHSIDE

At The Greenhouse 817

3144 Bryan Ave

Fort Worth, TX

POLY

At the UFW Community Justice Center

2308 Vaughn Blvd.

Fort Worth, TX

COMO (OPENS DEC. 19)

At Throw’n Shade Window Tinting

5705 Wellesley Ave.

Fort Worth, TX

Richardson recommends donating items such as:

  • Water
  • Cold weather gear like socks and blankets
  • Essentials like cheese, milk and eggs
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Cans that can be opened without a can opener
  • Good cold weather food, like soups


Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.org. You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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