Updated: Mar 15, 2022
This was a big moment and Fairmount Bicycles wanted to make sure that everyone on social media, Instagram specifically, knew about it:
“hey neighbors! our @mamateefridge is officially in place! this community fridge is currently fully stocked with fresh fruits and veggies. if you need food, swing on by. if you see someone who needs food, let them know. have food you want to share? bring it by! super excited for this partnership and so inspired by dr. michelle nelson of mama tee, who has so much passion about this project. food is a right, not a privilege”
A mama tee fridge is what, exactly? Stocked with fresh fruit and veggies for anyone who needs food?
Isn’t this precisely what we all crave? A small business that has felt so much love from the community is sending the love right back to those in need of the very basics. We all need inspiring stories. This is one of those.
“I do love the idea of community fridges popping up all over the city,” says Shelly Walker, the owner of Fairmount Bicycles at 2015 Fairmount Avenue. “I saw that happening last summer and thought, ‘Fairmount would be such a great place for that,’ citing the diversity and depth of the Greater Art Museum area. After confirming with the Fairmount CDC that there wasn’t a community refrigerator in place – the best that anyone knew – Walker went to work. She reached out to Mama-Tee Community Fridge for some more information and for some direction on how to get it moving forward. The missions aligned perfectly, as evidenced by the Mama-Tee Community Fridge mission statement:
“The Mama-Tee.com Community Fridge is a joint effort led by women of color. Our goal is to help those who are in need of food. Free food is a healthier alternative to seeking food out of garbage cans. Our first community fridge project will provide sustainable food for those in communities of color in the city of Philadelphia. Our motto is - take some and leave some. We work with nonprofits, restaurants, grocery stores, and individuals by collecting and sharing food that may otherwise go to waste.”
Mama-Tee supplied the refrigerator and, through a partnership with Misfits Market that sent a box of fresh fruit and vegetables to Walker’s refrigerator each week, the effort was live and launched and received with appreciative gusto from a community in need. Walker and the Fairmount Bicycle crew clean and maintain the refrigerator and neighbors have taken ownership to “check on” the cleanliness and efficiency of the fridge and even provide some safe and healthy food.
“It’s not just about food insecurity, it’s also about food waste,” Walker says. “That is what’s behind Mama-Tee’s mission. These are both big issues right now. So much food gets thrown out. We want to help out with that message and make sure that we get as much good food to people as possible.”
The refrigerator is located outside the bicycle shop, on North Capitol Street, and it opened on Earth Day. Walker doesn’t have an exact count on how many people have accessed the fridge, but she “sees turnover. We are changing food out a lot.” There are plans to grow, get the word out and potentially add a dry-goods pantry next to the fridge. Any neighbors who want to contribute in any way, hey, the more the merrier.
And it just feels so good to do the right thing.
“We want people to reach out and help and be part of this effort. I love the idea of everyone helping each other,” Walker said. “So, we’re here and anyone who can help us, we want to grow this.”