Cameron residents Nathan and Mallory Gaddy are brother and sister who want to make a difference. He is 20, she is 15.
They want to provide food for people who need it and provide a place for people to donate food to share. They really want to help the county and community but they have a problem: where will they build their “Freedge?”
A Freedge — 493 around the world and counting — is a nonprofit public refrigerator that acts as a community location to share food and ideas at the neighborhood level. By providing access to healthy food, Nathan says, “it becomes a free sharing space used not only for food, but also stories, art and ideas.”
There are Freedges in Charlotte, Banner Elk and Charleston, SC, according to freedge.org.
Often, these community food sources are somewhere in a community that can be easily accessible and has power. Photos on its website show the Freedge on a sidewalk, off a walking trail, near a popular restaurant or store, and usually have some kind of wooden structure surrounding it for pantry items.
The Freedge is Consumer Reports’ favorite fridge. It explains the business model as “part of a growing global movement with the goal of redistributing perfectly good food that would otherwise go to waste, and to bring people together to combat the growing problem of hunger in underserved communities.”
Ernst Bertone-Oehninger is the co-founder of Freedge.org. The entity, he has said previously, is merely, “an organization that offers advice on starting and maintaining community fridges and that keeps a database of the fridges around the world.” The group also offers micro grants, a messaging board for fellow Freedgers, community assistance, current donors, advice of all kinds and an opportunity to donate to the micro grant funding.
It is not a franchise opportunity or any kind of pyramid structure.
The Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey found that before March 13, 2020, about 30 percent of U.S. households self-reported as food insecure; in late April, after the pandemic hit hard, that number was 43 percent.
“We’re just trying to bring fresh food to people who have limited access,” Nathan said. “With the price of fresh produce on the rise, our most vulnerable communities are at risk of being priced out of healthy, wholesome food. My sister Mallory and I are just trying to fill a gap caused by a less than ideal economy.”
The siblings have done their homework and are ready for the naysayers. They have answers to concerns about health and safety compliance, maintenance, cost, legal and liability concerns, HOA compliance, environmental impact. Nathan works at First National Bank in Southern Pines and is a Sandhills Community College Student. He calls himself “the numbers guy;” Mallory, a student at Union Pines High, is the more creative one.
After a few months of scouting locally, they still do not have a location.
“We are really searching, but there’s just two of us and I am the only one who can drive,” Nathan said. They have looked at “the Pool Park on the west side and the park in downtown where the farmers market is held. I feel like the Freedge needs a place with lots of foot traffic, near a community that would best benefit.”
They have everything else in place.
“I have a roster of volunteers, funding, construction, a commercial appliance repair company for maintenance and a supply company ready for me to pick up a refrigeration unit,” he said. “I just need the real estate. Everything else is plug and play.”
According to Feeding America, a nonprofit network of food banks and assistance across the country, 1.24 million people face some form of hunger in North Carolina, and about a quarter of those are children.
Mallory designed an artist rendition of what she thinks would work best for Moore County. She believes that the advertising section of the structure can promote a company’s sense of community.
While still searching for the right spot, Nathan insists the community has been great so far. Johnathan Maness, owner of J+M Creations, has pledged to do all the construction, “which solved one of our biggest obstacles aside from the location.”
“When we bring this project to life,” Nathan said, “I know we can all work together to make Moore County a better place to live.”
For more information, contact Sam Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (678) 577-6183.