The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the free fridge movement in Canada from Calgary to Toronto. Regina has two fridges – one in North Central and now one in Cathedral.
The Cathedral Community Fridge sits under the spires of Holy Rosary Cathedral, in the east parking lot of the church. It's a 24-hour free food resource with a fridge, freezer and pantry, offering everything from fresh produce to sanitary products, no questions asked.
While the fridges have popped up during the pandemic, the concept behind them existed long before, according to Brianna Kroener, one of the organizers of Cathedral Community Fridge.
"Most of my adult life, community fridges were always something that I was very interested in, just because it followed the philosophy of mutual aid quite deeply. I thought that it was a really effective method to address food insecurity instantly," said Kroener.
Kroener said mutual aid is based on a community coming together to help each other in times of need.
"I think everybody needs food. I think that there are people that are unable to dedicate certain portions of their budget toward grocery bills, as well as cellphone and rent, and all these other things that we need to be dedicating our income to," said Kroener.
One of the first things Kroener did was knock on doors to make sure the surrounding businesses and homeowners were on board with the idea.
She said the Cathedral neighbourhood has a strong sense of community and was willing to lend a helping hand to create and maintain the fridge.
"It's just really, really important to understand that community fridges are solidarity and not charity," said Kroener.
Donate food or time
Emily Norton of Archangel Builders designed the fridge, helped find supplies and the subcontractors to help build it.
She said she wanted to make sure it stands the test of time with a slanted roof, deck and insulated walls.
Kroener and Norton both said they hope people can take pride in the fridge and self-regulate— donating when they can and taking when they need.
"Being a single mom, I had a hard time getting groceries after work and picking my kids up because I didn't have the ability to take them into the grocery store. So having something like this in place, where you could come get some necessities and go on with your day, until you can find somebody to watch the kids," said Norton.
"There's nothing to be ashamed of to need in a moment. And it's not permanent."
They said if people want to help, it doesn't have to be in the form of food donations. People can donate their time by cleaning or organizing.