As the global health crisis intensified and magnified food scarcity in South Florida, a new kind of grassroots activism emerged: community fridges. It began with a couple of public refrigerators placed in Miami’s hardest-hit neighborhoods and has slowly grown into a network across the county’s at-risk areas. Village (Free) DGE and Miami Community Fridge by Buddy System Miami are two of the organizations behind the relief movement. Each one employs a network of hard-working volunteers to ensure the fridges are cleaned and stocked with produce and pantry staples folks can take for free. There’s no cost or judgment attached to visiting one of the fridges. In fact, it’s not even charity, says one volunteer. “I always like to emphasize that this work is more about mutual aid and being in solidarity with one another,” says Vanessa, who works with Buddy System Miami. “What it has also proven to me is that the resources are already available, it’s just a matter of redistributing them into pockets of Miami that don’t have easy access to healthy nutritious foods,” she adds. As for the appliances themselves, they’re donated and, if you’re Buddy System, hand-painted by local artists. Donations are accepted and needed and can be made via the organizations’ Instagram pages.
It’s easy to be optimistic about Miami’s future when you glean the talented folks at work in our community. From the artisan and the designer to the urban farmer, there’s an inspiring bunch who are shaping industries and reimagining the ways we support one another. For instance, what may have started as short-term solutions to increasing food scarcity is now a socially distant drive-thru pantry and a network of community fridges in underserved neighborhoods. Plus, when Miamians weren’t finding ways to feed one another, we were lifting each other up with arts and culture in our homes. The Miami Book Fair and the New World Symphony are just two of the many examples of our city’s cultural beacons making our city better. Who are the most exciting innovators emerging now? It’s all here: a look at the people, places and things making Miami a better place to live right now.