The all-hours, community-stocked refrigerator located in the alleyway behind 57th Street Books has been removed after a request from the city, though the group behind the project says it will look for another location in the neighborhood.
The refrigerator was placed there in August as part of a new initiative from a group called The Love Fridge, in which residents of a neighborhood can stock a refrigerator with free food for anyone to take. (There are currently 18 open refrigerators in the city, according to the organization’s online map.)
Love Fridge organizer Ramon Norwood told the Herald in September that the goal of the project was to make sure “the community gets empowered, and they’re able to do this amongst each other.”
A few weeks ago, locals noticed that the refrigerator in Hyde Park had disappeared, with a pair of notes taped to the front of 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th St., stating that “we have been asked to re-home this fridge and will unfortunately have to shut this site down effective immediately.”
Eric Von Haynes, a food justice and mutual aid advocate with The Love Fridge, told the Herald that the group learned after placing the fridge in the alley that it technically wasn’t on private property.
“The decision was ultimately made for us when a city employee told us to have it moved because it was on city property,” Haynes said in an email. “As much as we didn't want to remove the resource from a community that had become accustomed to it, we felt compelled to comply.”
Haynes noted that there had also been worries about accessibility in the alley during the winter, when it might become difficult or dangerous for people to navigate due to snow and ice, and that the group would look for another location in Hyde Park.
“We have removed the fridge and are actively looking for a new site in Hyde Park that would be optimal — embraced by the community with a healthy overlap from our mutual aid group and a steward from the area to ensure the fridge location meets our standards for safety, community engagement and accessibility,” Haynes wrote.
Other nearby Love Fridges can be found at Boxville, 332 E. 51st St., Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab, 4445 S. King Drive, and 2465 E. 74th St. Visit thelovefridge.com/locations for more information about hours and access.