Tulsa Community Fridge In Need of A New Home
In December of 2020, the Tulsa Community Fridge became available to the public. The project had been in the works for months. The idea is simple: increase access to food for Tulsans experiencing food insecurity without the barriers of paperwork or bureaucracy. It’s a fridge full of food for whoever may need it, whenever they need it.
The organizers of the project are not Tulsa natives. Each of them fell in love with the community and, inspired by ongoing mutual aid projects in Tulsa and community fridge projects elsewhere, they decided to get to work.
Lexi Goodnough, who spoke for the group, is from Upstate New York. She came to Tulsa in 2019 to teach in Tulsa Public Schools through Teach for America.
“As a teacher, I've learned that it takes a village to raise a child,” Lexi said. “Similarly, it takes a village to build a community. Since I live in this community, I have an obligation to do my part in making it the best community for everyone. I am passionate about reducing both food insecurity and food waste, and until our government actually takes care of its people, community fridges are a necessary way to address both problems.”
Mutual aid projects like this are not easy work. Organizers can burn out, the fridge itself can suffer mechanical issues, and private businesses tend to oppose projects of this kind.
One of the biggest obstacles for the project is finding a place to host their fridges. Their first fridge was located at Heirloom Rustic Ales in Kendall Whittier Neighborhood. The business decided not to host the fridge just before Thanksgiving 2021.
Their next host location was the Center For Public Secrets, but, due to pressure from neighboring businesses, they too decided to stop hosting.
The fridge is currently without a home. “The most immediate support we need is to find a new host,” Lexi said. The host would have to be “knowledgable about systemic problems, empathetic to other humans, and would be willing to take on the responsibilities of hosting a fridge.”
Lexi stressed that the Community Fridge Project is a form of mutual aid, not charity. Mutual aid was first popularized as an organizing theory and term by Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin.
Mutual aid is characterized by people helping one another in non-hierarchical and non-bureaucratic ways. It’s a way of bringing the community together by empowering people to form connections and provide for each other where governments and nonprofits cannot.
The Tulsa Community Fridge Project has paired with other organizations like Meal Prep Tulsa, Food Not Bombs Tulsa, 918cares, The Oklahoma Harm Reduction Alliance, Charles Schusterman Jewish Community Center, and many more to build a stronger network.
If you or someone you know would be interested in hosting the community fridge you can contact Lexi by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Art by Bethany Labit @any.art.69