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Photo: Anna Sutterer.

Nourishment for All: Denver Community Fridges

Open 24/7, these outdoor refrigerators and pantries fight food insecurity.

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“Free Food” and “Comida Gratis.” The colorful words painted on fridges placed around Denver send a simple yet profound message to the local community: There is enough for all of us.

Denver Community Fridges (DCF), a mutual aid organization launched in December 2020, operates six refrigerators and small cabinet pantries placed outside of local businesses in the city; one in Globeville, three in Five Points, one in Sunnyside, and one in Baker. Individuals can walk, bike, or drive up and contribute fresh food and personal care items, or take whatever they need.

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One hundred to 200 people—youth to age 65 from 11 different ZIP codes—use the fridges every week. Some visit them daily, others sporadically to cover gaps between other food assistance programs. Because fridges are open 24/7, families are able to pick up or drop off before or after work, on the way home from an extracurricular activity, or during a slow weekend afternoon. 

“We’ve heard stories of parents who wanted to elevate the community, but they didn’t have the time or energy to make commitments,” AJ Boglioli, DCF general operations manager, says. “With DCF, they can buy extra diapers, baby food, and menstrual products while doing their regular grocery shopping, and drop them off at a fridge/pantry. Parents find it to be a great way to participate in mutual aid, while involving the kids, without disrupting their busy lives.”

How you can help: Sign up to be a point person for a fridge; that means cleaning and organizing once a week. Distribution volunteers drive to partner organizations to pick up supplies and bring them to fridges. Monetary donations help DCF make trips to grocery stores for restocking. Add a few items to your shopping list—check the DCF guidelines on what’s appropriate to bring. Follow @denvercommunityfridges on Instagram for updates on supply needs at each location.

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