April 26, 2021 By Christina Santucci
Volunteers who run a community fridge in Woodside said their refrigerator was vandalized early Sunday morning – and they are now working to set up a replacement.
The Woodside Community Fridge provides free food for anyone and everyone – no questions asked – from the publicly-accessible refrigerator and shelf space at 50-27 31st Ave. Community members donate the food, and the project is described as “solidarity, not charity,” on Instagram.
Mohammed Hossain, who owns a deli on 31st Avenue where the fridge is installed outside, found the brightly painted refrigerator in the street with its doors removed and its contents scattered on the sidewalk and curb around 4 a.m. Sunday.
Hossain, who was in the store at the time of the vandalism, said he heard loud noises – and then discovered the damage outside.
Photos taken Sunday morning showed items – such as yogurt, milk and containers with cooked meals – strewn on the ground, along with the fridge’s shelves. The fridge was removed from its wooden enclosure and left in the street.
Volunteers who run the fridge said they are now working with Hossain to replace the fridge, and anyone interested in making a financial donation can contribute online.
Hossain said some members of the community rely on the fridge for food, and he has been happy to pitch in space and electricity. “I need to help too. Everyone needs to help each other,” he said.
In a collective statement, organizers thanked everyone who helped to clean up the area as well as those who are assisting with the effort to secure a replacement.
They did not file a police report and explained their decision for not doing so in their statement.
“As abolitionists, we support non-carceral responses to harm outside of involving the police or seeking punishment for the vandalism itself,” the collective of Woodside Community Fridge organizers wrote.
“We ask that all community members continue to practice respect and care when events such as these happen and refrain from assuming the motivations of our neighbors,” the statement continued.
The organizers are members of a non-hierarchical mutual aid network, and many are also part of the Sunnyside & Woodside Mutual Aid group.
“We are not a non-profit or charitable organization, but we operate with a horizontal structure where no one is in charge of anyone,” the collective wrote.
Anyone interested donating food can still drop off shelf stable items, and updates about the fridge will be posted on the group’s Instagram account. Organizers said they would also welcome donations of sanitary supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) in secure packaging.