Shrewsbury opens community fridge near Senior Center

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Anushri Mishra, who designed the logo for the fridge, helped cut the ribbon for Shrewsbury’s new community fridge. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – A community fridge has officially come to Shrewsbury. 

The Rotary Club held a ribbon cutting on Tuesday for the new fridge, which is located next to the Senior Center on Shrewsbury’s municipal campus on Maple Avenue. Now open, the fridge provides free food to community members in need.

As Rotary President Sandy Burgers described it, the motto of a community fridge is “take what you need and give what you can.”

She was joined this week by State Rep. Hannah Kane and State Sen. Michael Moore.

“I want to thank you all for putting this here,” Kane said of the fridge. “It looks like it was always meant to be here.” 

Kane also presented a check for $500 from the charity foundation run by her and Shrewsbury Selectman Beth Casavant. 

Selectmen support project

Several months ago, Burgers sent a letter to the Board of Selectmen, asking to locate the fridge next to the Senior Center. 

The Rotary Club asked the selectmen and town to partner with the club to cover the cost of electricity for the fridge.

When the letter was discussed with the Board of Selectmen in February, Casavant estimated that costs would total about $60 per year, which the selectmen ultimately approved.

Legislators highlight need

During the ribbon cutting this week, Burgers recognized eighth grader Anushri Mishra, who created the logo for the fridge, and Phil Blumberg, who built the structure the fridge is located in.

Kane noted that she and Moore both spend time worrying about people who do not have enough to eat and/or who do not know where they may get their next meal. 

“This is a great idea,” Moore said.  “People don’t really realize how many people in the community actually need food.”

He said that people often think food insecurity only occurs in the urban areas or among certain demographics. He said state data, however, indicates there are “so many communities that have people in need of food assistance.”

“And it’s even worse now with the inflation that we’re dealing with,” Moore said.

According to Project Bread, 16.4% percent of households were food insecure in Massachusetts in March, which is the most recent data.

In Shrewsbury, this fridge is now one of several efforts to address food insecurity. 

Last year the town received a $75,000 earmark through a state ARPA spending bill to establish a food bank.

Meanwhile, St. Anne’s Parish already operates its own food pantry, which is open weekly on Mondays. 

“Thank you for thinking of everyone in your community because I can guarantee you that you’ve got people here that are probably too embarrassed to come forward, and they really shouldn’t be,” Moore said. “This is a great service that you’re providing and desperately needed.”

Rotary Club notes fridge guidelines

The rotary had outlined several guidelines for donating to the community fridge. 

They encourage donations of products like fresh produce, eggs, bread, dairy, frozen food and pet food, as well as meals and goods from certified kitchens. They also encourage sealed personal protective equipment and hygiene supplies.

The rotary, meanwhile, has discouraged donations of raw meat and seafood, homemade food or leftovers, rotting or wilted food, unsealed food or hygiene supplies, expired items, alcohol or medication, severely dented cans, ungraded eggs and clothing and housewares.

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