As its co-founders depart, here’s what’s ahead for Evanston Community Fridges


Illustration by Ziye Wang

The Evanston Community Fridges team is looking to expand by setting up a fifth location, with organizers currently seeking an organization to host the potential new fridge.

Kimberly Espinosa, Reporter

Local organizers are continuing a collective effort to sustain a network of community fridges in Evanston after its co-founders transitioned out of their roles this past summer. 

Though both organizers are stepping back, they said they are hopeful the community fridges will continue to thrive and free-of-cost groceries will remain available as neighbors engage in the effort.

“There’s always people that are imagining what this could look like and being willing to give their love to make it happen,” co-founder and former Evanston resident Maggie Quinn said.

Quinn said she moved out of the Evanston area in June to live closer to her parents. Her co-founder, Evanston Township High School graduate Maia Robinson, said she plans to stay on the east coast after graduating from college in New York. 

Quinn and Robinson first connected online in 2020 through their mutual interest in community organizing. Robinson was an organizer for Evanston Fight for Black Lives when Quinn reached out to the organization’s Instagram account. 

Quinn learned about Robinson through her initial outreach to The Love Fridge, a Chicago-based mutual aid network that also served as a resource for the co-founders.

Shortly after, the organizers began coordinating the first Evanston community fridge, located outside the Childcare Network of Evanston. Anna Grant-Bolton, who was born and raised in Evanston, is the current outreach lead organizer for the fridges, alongside Noa Polish. Grant-Bolton said she worked alongside the co-founders to open the first community fridge. 

A current college student, Grant-Bolton has been working remotely to build ongoing outreach initiatives for the fridges. 

One of those initiatives is the grocery reimbursement program, which refunds community members for their contributions to the fridges. Grant-Bolton said there remains a clear need for the fridges in Evanston. 

“We almost never have food that goes into the fridge that goes to waste. We tend to have more demand than we have supply,” Grant-Bolton said.

Grant-Bolton said the fridges have provided not just food, but community as well. After the fridges launched, Evanston residents created the “Support of Community Fridges in Evanston, IL” Facebook group to help community members looking to donate to the fridges and update them on current donations. 

“If you look on the… Facebook group, you’ll see that sometimes people will post, ‘Hey, I’m feeling sick, would somebody be able to drop off food for me?’” Grant-Bolton said. “Trying to create these roads of connections and solidarity is a big hope going forward.”

As Quinn and Robinson have left Evanston, community organizers like Grant-Bolton are working to raise awareness about the need for the fridges’ resources.

Robinson said she is optimistic about the future of Evanston’s mutual aid organizations, including the community fridges. 

“More fridges will come,” Robinson said. “It will be more than okay. It will keep flourishing. That really gives me a lot of hope.”

In fact, the Evanston Community Fridges team is now looking to expand by opening a fifth site, with the group currently working to find an organization that will host the fridge.

While the process is still in its early stages, organizers are also mindful of the long-term goals for the fridges. 

“It’s just really exciting to see different community members take responsibility for caring for their neighbors. To me, that’s the long-term goal,” Grant-Bolton said.

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Twitter: @nedaziakim

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