Community fridges stocked with free fresh food and produce have helped many food-insecure families in Los Angeles weather the pandemic.
But now the sidewalk refrigerators have a new function, as inflation is driving up food prices. Skyrocketing food prices are bringing a wave of people to cupboards for the first time.
The grassroots groups that keep outdoor refrigerators plugged in, running and clean asked for more volunteers and donations.
One of the websites that helps people find refrigerators lists its Eagle Rock and Glassell Park locations as “nearly empty.” NBC4 confirmed that a cupboard only contained a jar of peanut butter, a can of beans and some cereal.
“With the economy being so bad, every little bit counts,” said one woman, who did not want to be identified by name. She took some fresh vegetables and returned to her van. “I don’t like to take too much, just what I need.”
Some donors said “it’s not just the homeless who are showing up now” as the largest groups show up late in the afternoon, usually after work.
Almost all grocery items have gone up in price. The cost of eggs is 38% higher than last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The price of chicken increased by 17% and that of milk by 15.6%.
Although some economists have said that we may have hit the ceiling of headline inflation, it will be some time before we start to feel that in the supermarket.
Until then, families are turning to street corner options for help. And donors are encouraged to keep those refrigerators full.