Brentwood church is site of second Long Island community fridge
Inspired by the success of Long Island’s first community fridge in Brentwood, organizers opened a second one in the hamlet in an effort to give families access to fresh food any time of the day.
The new fridge, housed at Christ Episcopal Church in Brentwood, is believed to be Long Island’s second such fridge. Community fridges became popular across the country during the pandemic and are led by grassroots efforts to feed communities in need for free. The fridges require no identification for recipients.
At the grand opening Saturday, which was attended by nearly two dozen people, organizers unveiled the fridge, which was painted by Port Washington artist José Flores Chamalé in honor of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old indigenous girl from Guatemala who died in 2018 while detained by Border Patrol agents. Organizers said they hope Jakelin's memory will raise awareness about indigenous communities.
Behind the fridge is organizer Amanda Sweeney, who, with the help of her partner and sister, launched the first one at the Salvadoran Consulate in Brentwood in October. That fridge, only open on Saturday mornings, is often emptied in just a matter of minutes, Sweeney said. The fridge at the church, open 24/7, will expand the community’s access to fresh food and give donors the opportunity to drop off food at their convenience, she said. The fridge aims to help Long Islanders who face food insecurity and whose needs aren’t met by other organizations.
"If we’re helping each other, we can provide resources where the government has failed us," Sweeney said. "We can uplift children and our community can move on to gain financial mobility in the future."
The fridge is run entirely through donations and community support. Sweeney said popular foods are staples such as milk, eggs, produce, oil, rice, butter and maseca (corn flour). At the grand opening, the fridge was full of fresh produce and several dozen bagels donated by Terrace Bagelry and Deli in Islip Terrace. An outdoor pantry will hold dry goods and canned items.
When Sweeney approached faith leader the Rev. Juan Reyes about placing the fridge at the church on Third Avenue, he instantly approved. The church and its congregation are already embedded in community outreach and offer a food pantry twice a month and English classes twice a week, Reyes said. The church is currently preparing a community garden, where members will grow vegetables, he said. He called the community fridge "a blessing from God."
"We see people who come to the church with needs, and we believe that those people in need will see this project as a suitable help to be able to feed themselves in a dignified and respectful way," he said.
HOW TO GET AND GIVE HELP
The new fridge is located at 155 Third Ave. in Brentwood and is open 24/7.
Residents can also obtain food at the fridge at 151 Alkier St. in Brentwood, which is open 10 a.m.- noon on Saturdays.
For more information, visit eileensfreebodega_ on Instagram.