A new community fridge is open at Tian Jin Temple on Smith Ave in Burnaby. @burnabyfridge / Instagram

A new community fridge has opened in Burnaby

The fridge, located at the Tian-Jin Temple at 3426 Smith Ave., is intended to be a low-barrier way for people to access food services.

By Srushti Gangdev | August 11, 2022 |5:00 am

A new community fridge has opened in Burnaby for anyone to give or take groceries and pantry items.

The fridge, located at the Tian-Jin Temple at 3426 Smith Ave., is operated by the Burnaby Primary Care Network (PCN) and is intended to be a low-barrier way for people to access food services.

It’s free to access, and you can come and pick up food at any time you please–which PCN community engagement coordinator Andrea Creamer says is important for people who may be afraid of a stigma associated with accepting charity from food banks or food hubs.

It’s one of three fridges located around the city. The first one was set up last year at the Burnaby Youth Hub on Imperial Street, in response to a large increase in food insecurity during the pandemic. A second fridge is located at the SFU Student Union Building.

A February 2021 city council report noted that the number of people accessing food banks in Burnaby climbed by more than 50% since the start of the pandemic.

And inflation has caused the price of groceries in Canada to rise nearly 10% in the past year.

“This was to meet the needs of people in immediate need. Single parents who were working from paycheque to paycheque, who have a car repair that week, and all of a sudden they can’t afford to get food for their kids,” said Jeff Malmgren, who worked on the opening of the Imperial Street fridge last year.

“There’s no stigma attached to it. When you open the fridge, nobody knows whether you’re taking food out or putting food in. We’ve seen in other communities that it’s become really well used in the community and really well supported.”

Creamer says the first two locations have been extremely successful, and that people often email her or message the group on Instagram to find out what they can donate.

The fridges accept fresh produce, dairy, bread, grab-and-go items like granola bars, and meals that have been prepared in a commercial kitchen. Expired, opened, or home-cooked food is not accepted.

Along with a refrigerator, Tian-Jin Temple also hosts pantry space for non-perishable foods and for other essential items like toiletries, diapers, and menstrual products.

You can find a full list of items accepted for donation here.

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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