With over 1.4 million individuals in South Florida struggling to put food on the table as a result of the pandemic, Buddy System MIA is doing something about food insecurity. The nonprofit created the Miami Community Fridge network. The goal – place refrigerators filled with fresh food across Miami-Dade County. Anyone can access these fridges for free, and the organization’s unofficial motto is “take what you need, leave what you can.”
According to Vox.com, through a partnership with Good Samaritan Meals, Trader Joe’s donates 1,000 to 5,000 pounds of excess food to Buddy System MIA every week. Volunteers pick up the donations, which would otherwise be thrown out and use them to fill the Miami Community Fridge’s seven locations.
When the initiative began in August of 2020, the organization set a goal of establishing and filling 10 community fridges across the city by March 2021. This past weekend, they unveiled three new fridges in Hialeah and Wynwood – meeting their goal. But more importantly providing greater access to free, nourishing food for those who need it most, no questions asked.
Yet, Buddy System and Miami are not alone. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, free fridge programs have sprung up across the United States. Community fridges serve as a grassroots response to a dire food insecurity crisis. A crisis Federal and State governments are failing at. Many of the hardest-hit neighborhoods across the country also have a high proportion of undocumented residents. These residents are ineligible for government-provided Covid-19 relief or tradition SNAP assistance.
One of the hallmarks of the fridges are their design. Often times local artists will contribute to the effort by providing artistic renderings on the fridges. Slogans such as “Share Something Great” or “Life is Better Shared” adorn many. In an effort to join the grass roots philanthropy and to celebrate local artists and inspire their communities, Buchanan’s commissioned Miami-based artists Atomik, Haiiileen and Alex Yanes. The artists are leaving their mark on the fridges with their iconic designs to bring color and vibrancy to these neighborhoods.
Buchanan’s and Buddy System also worked with Mana Public Arts to host an unveiling ceremony for the community fridge designed by Atomik. The community is encouraged to join them to #sharesomethinggreat. With opportunities to help make sandwiches to stock the fridge and attend the public art workshop hosted by Mana Public Arts.
“We’re thrilled to join Buchanan’s Whisky and Buddy System MIA in such a cause-driven initiative that uses public art to address and raise awareness on the critical issue of food insecurity,” says Ana Garcia, Director of Mana Public Arts. “Our platform is committed to energizing all members of our community and through efforts like these that mirror our commitment to evoking empathy, creating opportunities and amplifying artists, so we’re grateful to be able to partner with likeminded people and brands to bring greatness to the Miami community. “