MOTT HAVEN, the Bronx — Community fridges have popped up all over the city throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic because so many people are suffering from food insecurity, but a popular, successful community fridges is facing possible eviction.
Dan Zauderer and another neighborhood school teacher created a 24/7 free food pantry and refrigerator known as the Mott Haven fridge to help the one in four Bronx residents suffering from food insecurity.
“It’s clear the community response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Zauderer said.
As PIX11’s Monica Morales reported last month, the milk, eggs, bread, fruits and vegetables were flying off the shelves with hundreds of pounds of free food being given out every day.
But suddenly on Saturday, there was an ominous message from the landlord and new owners of Chicky’s Mini Market on the corner of St. Ann’s Avenue and 141st Street who supply the electricity and space.
The Mott Haven fridge and pantry is being evicted on Monday: no discussion and no meeting.
“All we are asking for, at the end of the day, is an open dialogue and communication,” Zauderer told PIX11 News.
Zauderer and other community organizers started a petition on change.org to send a clear message to the new bodega owners about what the Mott Haven fridge means to the community.
“We respect the property owner, but we want them to respect us as well,” Sonia Taylor, a longtime Mott Haven resident, told PIX11 News.
The outpouring of food and support from local restaurants, including la Morada and so many other organizations, has been overwhelming.
Just this weekend, Yuca Arts partnered with high school students to paint the fridge.
If they have to move, they will, but not happily.
“It has been a labor of love for everybody in this neighborhood,” Ariadna Phillips, a community organizer who works with South Bronx Mutual Aid, told PIX11 News. “So hopefully we’ll find another place that believes in the vision of people taking care of the community.”
PIX11 reached out to the bodega owner who refused to answer questions. Five other community fridges have closed across the city and the organizers of the Mott Haven Fridge are hoping that is not their fate as well