Volunteers open Neighborhood Fridge in Orlando to fight food insecurity

Neighborhood Fridge located behind Laundromart on Edgewater Drive

ORLANDO, Fla. – Local volunteers just opened Neighborhood Fridge in Orlando in an effort to combat food insecurity.

The founder, Katherine Franco, said she has wanted to do this for years and is excited that her longtime idea has been executed.

“The community launch was so great. It made me so happy, and it made me feel like I (want to) keep going doing this work,” Franco said.

It’s located right behind the Laundromart in the shopping plaza on Edgewater Drive.

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Sean Nelson and his family own the laundromat and agreed to host the Neighborhood Fridge.

“We need to try and give back as much as we can and not just think about ourselves,” Nelson said.

Inside the fridge is a range of donated healthy food and drink options.

On the side, a shelf was stocked with canned goods, dry foods, educational materials and contraceptives.

The Florida Access Network donated money and dozens of Plan B One-Step boxes, which usually cost about $50 in stores.

All hands were on deck for this project, including those of Emmanual Louis, who built the shed from the ground up.

Louis is in awe of the finished product.

“It’s wild to see,” he said.

Louis left the painting to Taylor Howell and five other artists, who brought the woodshed to life.

“It has a lot of pop to it, just makes it a very inviting design for someone to come in and take food,” Howell said.

Howell learned about the opportunity through Queer Artists Collective of Orlando.

“Art is something that can be viewed and appreciated and consumed by everyone no matter what their socio-economic status is,” Howell said.

Whether it’s housing, personal items or groceries, the resounding message in Central Florida is that prices are just too high.

Franco wants to take the burden off families whose budgets have been busted and help the unhoused people who are searching for their next meal.

“The whole concept of the project is to fight for food justice in the sense that we’re bringing a resource to the community that’s going to be there every day,” Franco said.

The team still needs the community’s help with donations.

Here’s a list of items that are allowed:

  • Fresh Produce
  • Bread and pastries
  • Sealed beverages
  • Milk and eggs
  • Prepackaged meals
  • Fresh Fruits
  • Canned foods
  • Dry foods
  • Hygiene Products
  • Diapers

Here’s a list of items at that are not allowed:

  • Alcohol or medication
  • Raw meat or fish
  • Unlabeled or expired food items
  • Rotting or moldy food
  • Open food containers
  • Damaged food items
  • Large/small food platters
  • Clothing donations
  • Homemade food

Franco encourages people to bring what they can and take what they need.

The Neighborhood Fridge is accessible 24/7.

If this location is a success, she hopes to expand and open another fridge in a different neighborhood.

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About the Author:

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.