A Community Approach to Fighting Food Insecurity
Volunteers throughout Rockland County are leaving the refrigerator door open — and encouraging people to take what they need and give what they can.
The three-location initiative, known as Rockland Community Fridge, seeks to alleviate food insecurity, or a lack of access to food and nourishment for basic needs. The crisis situation that can cause psychological distress is being made worse by the pandemic, inflation, and an influx in newly arrived families, said organizers with Proyecto Faro.
“We saw that during the pandemic there was so much need for people in the community to have access to food, with dignity and without being scared,” said Sherly Fabre, an organizer with Proyecto Faro, which also offers recurring food distribution events, legal services for immigrants, and a free store at its Stony Point headquarters. “So far it’s been a really good success.”
About nine percent of Rockland County’s population, roughly 29,000 people, do not have access to a reliable source of food, making them food insecure, according to New York State Department of Health statistics from 2018, the most recent year available. The situation has likely worsened since then.
“If you were on the margins prior to the pandemic, it takes longer for low-income families to recover from something like this than it does families that are more affluent,” said Kim Cross, executive director of Nyack Center, one of the three Community Fridge locations partnered with Proyecto Faro.
“There’s a great level of need, especially now with inflation,” said Fabre. “Your dollar is not being stretched as far, and there are people who were barely making ends meet before that.”
At Nyack Center, which serves about 100 to 150 children per day, most of whom qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch, programs like the Community Fridge help fill in the gaps, said Cross.
For Proyecto Faro, or Project Lighthouse, the program also fulfills its core mission of supporting those in Rockland County who feel insecure due to their immigration status.
“A lot of need is certainly arising out of an influx of a number of new families coming into the county and migrating here with very little,” said Elizabeth Roberts, Proyecto Faro’s director of administration and finance. “Getting established and trying to figure out how to start over is usually accompanied by food insecurity.”
Food donations at the three Community Fridge locations are not the only thing that’s shared. A sense of optimism that surrounds the volunteer effort is also palpable, said Roberts.
“Despite all of the difficult things that we see every day,” Roberts said, “I think we’ve seen a lot of hope that gets restimulated, or it builds on itself, because people show up for each other. There is a sense of unity and solidarity that I think gives people [hope].”
Rockland Community Fridge locations are open 24/7, except at Nyack Center, where the nonprofit host is working with the village to resolve building code issues currently prohibiting the outdoor use, said Cross.
If you would like to donate food or volunteer with Proyecto Faro, email email@example.com
Tom Clancey is an independent musician and community journalist. Find him at ClanceyMusic.com. Photos by Samantha Finch
Permitted Food Donations Include:
- fresh produce
- granola bars
- trail mix
- apple sauce
- fruit cups
- water bottles
- juice bottles and boxes
- disposable utensils
- pre-packaged foods and individually packaged snacks
Please check expirations dates
The fridge cannot accept home-cooked meals, alcohol, or opened items
Community Fridge Locations:
- Nyack Center, 58 Depew Ave., Nyack
- Seed of God Church, 11 Old Rt. 202, Pomona
- Church of St. Joseph & St. Boniface, 245 N. Main St., Spring Valley