Last spring, New Orleans joined a growing number of cities across the country experimenting with community supported outdoor refrigerators. New Orleans Community Fridges, which spearheaded the local effort, was inspired by similar efforts in New York City, Los Angeles and Nashville. Today there are 16 refrigerators scattered across town and stocked with frozen meals, fresh produce and cold water. Each refrigerator, some of which have been colorfully adorned by local artists, is hosted by a home, business or organization that provides the electricity to keep the appliance running. People are free to take what they need and encouraged to leave what they can. It is all available for free to anyone who needs it 24/7. When the refrigerator needs to be cleaned or supplies run out, willing volunteers take do the work.
“If you are hungry or thirsty, there is an autonomous space in your neighborhood where you have direct access to the things you may need,” NOCF stated in an email.” If you have access to food, water, groceries, or money, it means that the same free space is available for you to directly make an impact for your community. The larger goal is to provide an avenue for neighbors to support each other through difficult times.”
Those interested in helping with the NOCF mission may do so by volunteering, stocking a refrigerator, hosting a refrigerator, or donating money to the cause. Donations are used to purchase and repair refrigerators, supplies for powering or sheltering refrigerators, assistance in covering electricity bills, purchasing of hand sanitizer and dispensers, operating costs, etc. NOCF has recently begun to contract and invest in local artists to beautify the refrigerators and their shelters as well as include and support the supplies for community chefs looking to make consistent bulk donations of prepared meals. Monetary donations are welcome and received either via our GoFundMe or Venmo account @NO-CF, the group also welcomes offerings of other resources from the community.
The Louisiana Hospitality Foundation and United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) have joined forces to create Hospitality Cares, to benefit members of the hospitality community suffering through the prolonged pandemic and its impact on the industry. Through Fish Fry Fridays, Hospitality Cares will donate $1 per fish fry entrée sold through participating restaurants each week. For a list of participating restaurants and their Lenten specials visit FishFryFridays.org. The Fish Fry Fridays campaign was initially launched during Lent 2020 to help hospitality workers laid off during the pandemic. It raised over $12,000 from restaurant sales and a sponsorship from TABASCO®, which is sponsoring the campaign again this year. New Orleans Fish House is a new sponsor and is offering discounts to participating restaurants for their seafood features. Hospitality Cares is a crisis grant program offering varying resources, including free civil legal aid, counseling and emergency financial assistance to individuals working in the hospitality industry – one of the region’s largest employment sectors. The emergency grants award up to $2,500 to eligible employees at hospitality businesses running active United Way workplace campaigns in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. The funds provide temporary assistance during times of crisis to cover basic financial needs, including housing, medical and utility bills.
Take some time to help someone this weekend. No matter how you may be suffering you will feel better for it. Reach out, do something kind, hang in there.