New community fridge launches in Glassell Park

The Glassell Park Community Fridge filled with donated groceries, available to any and all, sitting in front of L.A. Road Thrift Store in Los Angeles, Sept. 8, 2021. Abbott Hoeven/The Occidental.

LA Community Fridges, a network of mutual aid throughout LA, launched a fridge in Glassell Park Aug. 28 which is made, stocked and utilized by the community. The colorful fridge, decorated with fruits, vegetables and the message “Comida Gratis/Free Food,” sits in front of the L.A. ROAD Thrift Store on Eagle Rock Boulevard. It is open 24/7, according to L.A. ROAD Thrift Store general manager Lindsey Byler, allowing people to drop off and pick up food on their own schedule.

Nikki Nguyen, a community member of Glassell Park, said she was inspired to start the fridge after dropping off food at the now-closed Highland Park fridge. Nguyen said after seeing what an amazing resource it was, she felt there was a need for a fridge in the NELA area.

Nguyen said she saw a now-deleted post on Nextdoor by community member Veronica Huerta, asking neighbors if they wanted to pitch the idea of a community fridge to the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council. Nguyen and Huerta connected and soon decided to go forward without support from a government entity, according to Nguyen. Nguyen and Huerta turned to the LA Community Fridges FAQ Google Doc to institute a community fridge in the area. The document outlined two essential steps — create a team and find a host site, according to Nguyen.

An email chain eventually formed, according to Nguyen, including community members Nguyen, Huerta, Maryam Hosseinzadeh and Kelly Opdycke. Nguyen said she posted an infographic on Instagram in hopes of raising money for a used fridge. After Nguyen posted, $400 was raised for the Glassell Park community fridge in one day.

Nguyen said she transported the fridge to L.A. ROAD Thrift Store, the local organization that agreed to be the host site. She dropped off some water bottles and salads, and the Glassell Park fridge was officially up and running. The fridge was full before the end of the day, according to Nguyen.

L.A. ROAD Thrift Store is a non-profit thrift shop that ensures all of its money goes back into the Glassell Park Community, according to Byler. Byler said hosting a fridge consists of two commitments — providing the location and providing the electricity.

Byler said the store readily agreed to host the community fridge because of its founding mission.

“We are about building relationships with our community,” Byler said. “That is the whole point of this place. That is why we are so excited by the fridge.”

The Glassell Park fridge is one of many community fridges in LA, according to Nguyen. Find a Fridge, a website created by LA Community Fridges, details the locations of their 15 current community fridges. LA Community Fridges also has an active Slack channel, according to Nguyen, where community members can stay up to date with the individual fridge’s stock, cleanliness and temperature.

Community members can fill out a check-in form that provides the organizers updates on the fridge. The form contains a slew of questions, from the cleanliness of the fridge to what foods people would want to see there, according to the Airtable form.

The Glassell Park fridge has already been extremely well received, according to Nguyen. She said in the few weeks the fridge has been up, it has been emptied and filled multiple times.

“The sense of community around this fridge is so strong,” Nguyen said. “And that feels really fulfilling to me.”