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Bronx community fridge in community dealing with food security is in trouble

Posted at 6:42 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 18:42:51-05

MOTT HAVEN, the Bronx — Community fridges around the city are helping New Yorkers throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic because so many people are unable to feed their families.

A successful fridge in the Bronx aims to help the one in four people who are hungry in that borough. It's one of the few fridges still standing, after several others have shut down.

The concept of "taking what you need" comes from generous volunteers who can give what they can.

Ciara Sidell is a Mott Haven Community Fridge supplier through her work at Randall's Island Park Alliance.

"Food insecurity in this city and this area has sky rocketed during COVID-19 and it was a struggle beforehand, so being able to drop off fruits and vegetables and talk to the community is really impactful," said Sidell.

Sidell helps stock the fridge so pantry regular Debbie Robles and people like her won't live in fear of going hungry.

"Every day, I am here every single day," said Robles.

She and her neighbors stock up on a variety of food up for grabs 24/7, empowering those suffering from food insecurity.

"There are hungry people who are desperate for a solution," said fridge co-organizer Daniel Zauderer.

Zauderer is a neighborhood school teacher who started the Mott Haven Fridge about two months ago along with another teacher.

"Our students told us as teachers they didn't have enough money to pay for food," said Zauderer.

PIX 11's been following the fridge's success.

It sits outside of Chicky's Mini Mart on the corner of Saint Ann's Avenue and 141st Street.

But its mission to serve others may be coming to an end, after the landlord and new owners of the mini mart sent a message to Zauderer and his team the fridge is being evicted.

"Everything is still unclear," said Zauderer. "I would love to have a meeting and have an open dialogue and at the end of the day if we're not serving the business well we wouldn't want to be here."

The bodega owner wouldn't respond to questions from PIX11.

Meanwhile, at least five other fridges have closed across the city.

While the lights to the Mott Haven labor of love remain on, its fate is unknown as the need to serve continues to grow.

"We don't have formal agreements or leases, all we have is good faith of the community and the businesses that decide to host," said Zauderer.