“The fridges belong to everybody”: Evanston’s fourth community fridge to open this fall


Onyekaorise Chigbogwu/Daily Senior Staffer

The community fridge outside Childcare Network of Evanston. The fourth community fridge in Evanston will open this fall.

Ilana Arougheti, Assistant City Editor

Evanston’s fourth community fridge will open this fall outside of Kombucha Brava at 717 Custer Ave.

Community members built Evanston’s original fridge outside the Childcare Network of Evanston building at 1335 Dodge Ave. Set to open in March, a vehicle crashed into the fridge and destroyed it the night before it was supposed to be plugged in. Within days, Evanston Fight for Black Lives members secured a replacement fridge — and a few Evanston residents offered up their fridges to the effort, too.

The Soul Fridge opened in June outside Soul and Smoke at 1601 Payne St. Just a month later, the Freedom Fridge opened outside Palmhouse 619 at 619 W Howard St.

Resident and Evanston Community Fridges organizer Maggie Quinn said the process of setting up each new fridge was modeled after the work of The Love Fridge, a mutual aid group that has installed community fridges throughout Chicago. The Love Fridge set Quinn up to partner with EFBL to put together the sites. 

“The network just grows and grows, which is the amazing thing about community work,” Quinn said. “We just keep working with folks who are local, and who are interested in investing in their neighbors.”

The process to set up a new community fridge starts with finding a host and a local artist who can paint the fridge, according to Quinn. When building begins, a volunteer constructs a weatherproof shelter and other supporting infrastructure. 

Once a fridge is built, community members maintain it together, following a mutual aid framework of “leave what you can, take what you need.” 

“We organize fridges hosted within our city to feed one another; taking responsibility for meeting each other’s needs without relying on ineffective institutions to provide nourishment and cultural affirmation,” the organization’s mission statement reads. 

Kombucha Brava co-founder Regina Sant’Anna said Evanston Community Fridges approached the business about hosting the city’s first community fridge while it was in the works. 

At the time she declined because she was concerned that her location would not be accessible to as many community members as possible, she said. Now, she’s excited EFBL has identified Kombucha Brava as the next ideal spot. 

“If I can use my business space to create any kind of community impact, I will,” Sant’Anna said. “As we do things that can help people in a more direct way and impact hunger… it’s not about what the fridge can bring to me but what I can give.”

The fridge for the Kombucha Brava location comes as a donation from local nonprofit Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse, which promotes waste reduction in landfills through sustainable deconstruction and renovation. Northbrook architecture firm Scott Simpson Design and Build will build and donate weatherproofing infrastructure for the latest three fridges, allowing outdoor pantry space in the winter.

Sant’Anna said the fridge’s focus on bringing fresh food to residents, especially high-quality vegetables and dairy, affirms Kombucha Brava’s zero-waste mindset while also combating hunger in the community on a daily basis. 

The fourth fridge is currently looking for two site managers who will check on the fridge weekly. All community members can sign up to check on the fridge, with the hope being that someone can visit at least once a day.  

“The fridges belong to everybody,” Quinn said. “Everybody who wants to use them for taking or leaving is more than welcome.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter:  @ilana_arougheti

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