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Overthrow Community Fridge
Photograph: Courtesy @GaryDeanClarke

NYC's first fully vegan community fridge sits right outside a Bleecker Street gym

Overthrow Boxing Club is clearly more than a pugilist's arena.

Written by
Anna Rahmanan
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Curious New York City wanderers taking strolls around NoHo might delightfully stumble upon a plywood-covered black refrigerator boasting the question "NEW YORK: WHAT ARE YOU FIGHTING FOR?"

The words happen to be the tagline for Overthrow Boxing Club, the Bleecker Street gym behind the very first entirely vegan NYC community fridge. 

At first, the idea of a boxing gym promoting vegan eating might sound off. But a mere behind-the-scenes look at what the destination stands for will make things clearer. Overthrow Boxing Club is actually more than a pugilist's arena: it trains folks with Parkinson's disease, leads healthy eating sessions for kids and even hosts the Transgender Boxing Collective.

According to Curbed, the community effort is the brainchild of the gym's own programmer, Power Malu, who volunteered to deliver meals to those in need last spring. Realizing that a focus on healthy food was lacking overall, Malu set up the fridge outside the gym and enlisted the help of other groups to keep it stocked, including Hip Hop is Green and Chilis on Wheels. Passerby may also notice a wooden pantry right besides the fruits-and-veggies-filled cooler, featuring products the likes of lentils, rice and more.

Installed on February 7, the refrigerator has already helped hundreds of visitors since then. Of course, this isn't the first community fridge to land in New York since the start of the pandemic. Back in May, the trend took hold of Bed-Stuy and, in August, a fridge full of free food popped up outside Greenpoint's The Lot Radio. But this particular effort seems to be a bit more nuanced, not only guaranteeing free fare to people in need but securing them with healthy items that aid programs usually can't guarantee. As always, creativity and kindness take center stage in a New York still dealing with an unprecedented moment in history.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, if a non-vegan product does happen to make its way into the fridge, Malu and his team simply donate it to another food organization. 

Needless to say, the organization would appreciate any sort of funding—so do feel free to make a donation on Venmo right here.

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