By: Kayla Guerrette
On the corner of Dewdney Avenue and Cameron Street behind a pharmacy is a shed-sized fridge, freezer and shelving unit filled with free food and sundries for anyone who needs them.
More commonly known as the “community fridge,” it is a system run voluntarily by the community for the community.
“I honestly don’t know what I would do without this,” said one woman as she held a can of pre-made chilli. “I was like everyone else working full-time until I got sick two years ago and had no other choice but to turn to social assistance.
“The government gives me only 170 dollars a month to live on after all my other bills are paid. It’s not enough.”
The woman beside her, also on social assistance, said she made the decision to retire in order to help care for her granddaughter, but the struggle to provide and care for her and her family continues to grow.
“If it wasn’t for the additional program I qualified for along with social assistance, I definitely wouldn’t have a roof over my head for me and my family,” she said.
“I barely make it each month and I am grateful for the community fridge because I honestly don’t know what I would do.”
The conversation paused after two teenage boys show up to the community fridge each grabbing a few packs of noodles for themselves. Both women looked on with sadness and concern.
“They are regulars like us,” said the second woman. “Those boys are homeless and couch-surf. That will probably be their only meal today.”
Danielle Froh worked tirelessly to make sure Regina had this system after seeing it for the first time in Calgary. For Froh, it’s a system she believes should be in every community.
“It keeps growing and it is going well but it is very eye opening and very sad because the more food we bring the quicker it goes,” said Froh.
“Sometimes it feels like we just bring food and hand it out and half of it barely even makes it into the fridge.”
But Froh is not the only one to notice the growing need.
Amy Dormuth is one of many volunteers who help run the community fridge.
I picked up more flashfood orders today and dropped them off at the Regina Community Fridge!
Let me tell you a story about the people that use the fridge. Everyone I have come across there are always so kind, and appreciative. They always say please and thank you! pic.twitter.com/fSw4S35LzQ
— Amy (she/her) (@RealAmyD) March 4, 2021
She said she was almost brought to tears when she dropped off some groceries and female hygiene products and met a 13-year-old girl excited to finally have access to the products.
“I have four nieces and the thought of any of them getting excited over something that is necessary for a girl to have every month just breaks my heart,” said Dormuth. “No teenage girl should ever feel excited over something like that.”
A GoFundMe page was created by Froh to help keep the fridge, freezer and shelves stocked for the people who need it.
It has been challenging for her to keep track of just how much has been spent on the initiative but Froh believes about $6,000 dollars a month is spent on food and products.
“We are not government funded,” said Froh. “This is honestly stocked and run by generous people in the community and we are so fortunate to have so many people ready and willing to help,”
Volunteers are in the process of creating a second community fridge system in the Cathedral area of Regina.