There's a take-what-you-need system happening in Windsor that's geared to help with homelessness, food insecurity, and struggles local food banks face in the community.
Since the start of COVID-19, 21-year-old local Windsorite, Virginia Facecchia, began reaching out to people in the Toronto area about ideas on how she can help her community. After learning about Toronto's community fridge program, Facecchia knew she had to bring this concept to Windsor.
The idea of a community fridge is to give people in need the opportunity to have food. The concept has been growing in popularity and has been adopted recently in other Canadian cities, such as Calgary.
"People are doing this all over the place. I met this guy named Jalil Bokhari in Toronto that has the Community Fridges Toronto Program. I started messaging him and told him I wanted to do something like this in Windsor," said Facecchia. "I've been super worried about food insecurity with people since the start of COVID. Once that happened, I knew I had to do something for the community."
Facecchia, who works at Advocating Young Minds - a local program that allows young people to focus on academic, social, and emotional learning - said their system offers young people a cupboard-style program that allows kids to bring home food to their families. Unfortunately, ever since COVID hit, they have been closed but will be reopening in September for four nights a week.
"Once that happened, I was so concerned about how these families were going to get any food," Facecchia stated. "I find that in Windsor's downtown core, there are a lot of issues related to homelessness and addiction. There are many people on the streets, but despite that, some people have also lost their jobs because of COVID, and that's something we need to focus on in our community."
The Free Food Community Fridge, which is located right in front Lowend Co. on Pelissier, is stocked full of locally grown vegetables and fruits from many donations that Facecchia was able to get in the last couple of months. With most of the contributions coming from the Downtown Farmers Market, Facecchia is happy with how the public has reacted to the Free Food Community Fridge.
"If it weren't for the guys here at Lowend Co., I wouldn't have been able to put this all together," shares Facecchia. "They are the ones that have helped me out so much with this mission. I have to thank the owner Ian Maxime Lufitha, Hector Nilo, Jedd Cruz, and Shawn De La Cruz for all they have done for my little project and of course, everyone in the community that is supporting this."
As of next week, the Free Food Community Fridge will be relocating from the front of Lowend Co to another location; that location is still being determined.