Shrewsbury Rotary Club to install community fridge near Senior Center

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Shrewsbury Rotary Club to install community fridge near Senior Center
Snow covers the Shrewsbury Senior Center property off Maple Drive in town. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)

SHREWSBURY – A community fridge is coming to Shrewsbury. 

The fridge will be sponsored by the Rotary Club, though Selectman Beth Casavant added in recent comments that this effort will also employ a grassroots approach to address food insecurity. 

“As a member of the Rotary Club, I’m really excited about this opportunity,” Casavant said during a Feb. 22 Board of Selectmen meeting. 

The selectmen received a letter from Rotary President Sandy Burgers prior to that meeting. 

The letter asked to locate the fridge next to the Senior Center on Shrewsbury’s municipal campus off Maple Avenue. 

The Rotary Club also asked the selectmen and the town to partner with the club to cover the cost of electricity for the fridge. Casavant estimated costs would total $60 per year.

“I think this is amazing,” said Selectman Theresa Flynn. “I really applaud the Rotary Club for taking this initiative. I’m very grateful for it.” 

Location

Casavant explained the decision to place the fridge on the municipal campus, saying that people would feel comfortable coming to the site at any hour if they needed food. 

This location is also on a bus route. And it’s a flat location, making it easy to walk to, Casavant said.

The Shrewsbury Farmers Market will operate nearby, allowing vendors to unload leftover food as needed.

The club added that it believes there is a need for the food in Shrewsbury’s senior community, whose members Casavant said may be less willing to ask for help.

“It makes it very easy for seniors who might need some food to be able to utilize that fridge when they’re visiting the Senior Center,” Casavant said. 

Casavant said that a local carpenter will build a shed, which will house the fridge and a pantry. 

“Community members are asked to donate food or, if people are food insecure, they’re able to go and get food as needed,” Casavant said. 

The Rotary Club will be responsible for upkeep, including removing snow, and making sure that the area is kept clean. 

Organizers eye summer opening date

With this, Shrewsbury will join other communities with fridge programs in the region, including Northborough and its Friend Fridge.

Selectman Maurice DePalo said he visited the Friend Fridge and found it to be well-maintained and clean.

“It looks like when it’s done right, it probably could do what it’s intended to do — help people. I think it’s worth a try,” DePalo said.

This effort to fight food insecurity similarly corresponds with other initiatives in town, including work to establish a new food bank.

That work is supported, in part, by a $75,000 earmark allocated to Shrewsbury through a state ARPA spending bill last year.

Shrewsbury’s St. Anne’s Parish already also operates its own food pantry, which is open weekly on Mondays beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Selectmen voted during their Feb. 22 meeting to approve the Shrewsbury Rotary Club’s request to cover electrical costs for the new fridge.

Organizers hope to open the fridge program in May or June of this year.

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