A local church is partnering up with organizing hub Mayday Space to fight hunger through the creation of a new community fridge.

Bushwick Abbey, an Episcopalian church that shares a space and hosts hybrid masses with Iglesia de la Santa Cruz, already has a few programs dedicated to food distribution. At the beginning of the pandemic, Bushwick Abbey distributed food every Wednesday, and they now partner with the North Brooklyn Angels to distribute hot meals every Tuesday at noon.

The two churches also installed their Tiny Purple Pantry in January, a lilac food donations box in front of the building. Reverend Anderson of Bushwick Abbey refers to the box as a “take what you need, leave what you can situation.”

The Tiny Purple Pantry is located in front of the building on St. Nicholas Ave shared by Iglesia de la Santa Cruz and Bushwick Abbey. Image courtesy of Bushwick Abbey webpage.

The pantry highlighted a surge in need as a result of the pandemic. Anderson told Bushwick Daily in March that “the pantry can be cleared out as soon as there is food up there.”

He reiterates there is still very much an increased need for food assistance in Bushwick. There are days, he says, when he has “to replenish the pantry six or seven times.”

With the success of the Tiny Purple Pantry, Bushwick Abbey has moved onto an even bigger project.

“As energy has built around [the Tiny Purple Pantry], we are collaborating with our friends at Mayday Space to open a community fridge called St. Nick’s Fridge,” Reverend Nell Archer of Bushwick Abbey explains.

Because Winona’s, a restaurant and cafe, donated what would become “St. Nick’s Fridge,” the project is now ahead of schedule. And, as Archer remarked, they can use more of the money raised through grants and donations to buy food.

They hope to have the fridge fully open in August or September. Anderson says they want it “up and running as quickly as possible,” especially since they expect the end of the eviction moratorium in late August will result in higher need for food assistance.

Other churches and charities also saw a sharp increase in need for their food distribution services over quarantine that continues today.

Elder Marilyn Hendrickson of the Mount of Olives Seventh-day Adventist Church commented on the surge in need at her church’s food pantry. While they normally serve roughly 30-40 people, she explained, during the height of the pandemic that number shot up to about 600.

Even as businesses reopen and the city begins to heal from the pandemic, she tells Bushwick Daily her church is still serving anywhere between 350-500 people, displaying a striking and continuing elevation of food insecurity in the neighborhood.

With St. Nick’s Fridge, Anderson looks to combat the high need for food assistance in the area. In addition, he hopes “the fridge will also act as a community center” as we emerge from the pandemic.

Top image by Paige Cromley.

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