Fredericton Public Library Community Fridge
On a sunny Tuesday morning, not fifteen minutes after The Fredericton Public Library opened its doors, the bowls of bananas and granola bars next to the Community Fridge were nearly empty.
“Traditional libraries were places that people could go and ask a question, take a book and leave, but now they’re becoming more of a community centre” said Julia Stewart, the library’s director.
Stewart recognizes the need in Fredericton for free healthy snacks. The Community Food Kitchen and other Fredericton organizations do a good job of providing food for the poor, but Stewart says there aren’t a lot of options for snacks throughout the day.
She also notes that the library holds longer hours and “attracts a lot of different people” not just the poor.
Newcomers and the elderly with fixed incomes might fall between the cracks of the services available in the community.
Stewart works with Greener Village and Fresh Choice to make sure there are fresh fruits available and to limit food waste. The library already puts in multiple orders a week to make sure the fridge is always stocked.
“The Library is a levelling agent in the community” said Kate Rogers, Executive Director of the Fredericton Community Foundation.
Rogers believes the library is a place where everyone is welcome regardless of background or status.
The Fredericton Community Foundation doesn’t usually fund equipment. “We often support programming that supports people but we knew that by funding this equipment we were supporting people” said Rogers.
“We do a ton of outreach” said Stewart, “we engage with the community to see what’s needed”.
The library offers an abundance of free resources and programming based on the needs of the public.
“And it’s a free space” said Stewart, “you can come hang out all day”.
Anyone is welcome to use the fridge, from the child having a tantrum on the way out the door, to the man sitting in the library to escape the summer heat to the construction worker outside the library who ran out the door without breakfast this morning.
“It’s accessible to everybody” said Stewart, “no questions asked”.
“The library in our city is very mindful about creating a welcome space” said Rogers.
This atmosphere along with the abundance of staff who can oversee the community fridge is exactly why the Fredericton Community Foundation believed the library would be able to sustain this project.
“[The fridge] does two things” said Rogers, “it fulfills basic needs of nourishment and it gives a more general sense of being welcome”.
Stewart already has plans to expand the space to offer canned goods and other vegetables in the fall.
“If someone were to ask me if it’s a success I’d say absolutely” said Stewart.
Author - FCF Summer Student, Julia Pazzano.