Merced County Times Newspaper
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‘People’s Fridge’ coming to Winton

The new ‘People’s Fridge’ in Winton is expected to address food insecurity in town.
The new ‘People’s Fridge’ in Winton is expected to address food insecurity in town.

The Winton LifeLine People’s Fridge will have its grand opening on Monday, Sept. 27, at 11 a.m., at 7081 N. Winton Way in Winton. On the same day, there will be a celebration of the one-year anniversary of Merced’s People’s Fridge at 936 W. 18th Street in Merced at 12:30 p.m.

“What better way to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the People’s Fridge than opening a new fridge,” said Erin Meyer of UC Merced Office of Sustainability, Community Engagement Center & Basic Needs. “It will be a community fridge for produce. You’ll be able to donate produce so you can leave food for others. They’ll check it in, and weigh it, and check the quality, and then people can take free produce if they need it on a 24/7 basis.”

The new People’s Fridge is located at Winton Lifeline’s Community Development Center (CDC) where they have a community garden. Monika Grasley, the CDC’s executive director, is helping to spearhead it.

LifeLine offers Winton residents services such as English/Spanish conversation classes, computer classes, VITA tax preparation, emergency food, graffiti abatement, Kids Club,  a  community garden, youth leadership training, and Bible studies.

“The food insecurity rate in 2016 was 16.7 percent for adults in Merced County, and in the pandemic, I’m sure that percentage is higher now,” Meyer said. “We’ve been looking to develop and put in more community fridges. We have one at Delhi High School, but we were looking to expand even more. …

“Monika Grasley is a close partner, and we work on other things together and it seemed like a natural fit. We asked Monika if she would help put a people’s fridge at LifeLine, and she agreed. …

“We hope to open another people’s fridge at LifeLine Loughborough Community Center in Merced.”

Explaining who donates produce to the people’s fridges, Meyer told the Times, “The produce varies by season and currently includes peaches, plums, and nectarines, and when citrus season hits, we get citrus.  During the school year, we get produce packets from the schools.  Sometimes, we get donations from grocery stores or flea markets that include tropical fruit which has been imported from other areas, like bananas, pineapple and mangos.

“In Delhi, they worked out an agreement with Liberty Market and a few other ones to provide food, and we also get donations from the flea market, the farmer’s market and the Merced County Food Bank.

“I would like to thank the Merced County Food Bank for their continuing support through providing wholesome produce and multiple free fridges to support our growing community fridge program.”

Explaining how the community can help, Meyer said, “We welcome farmers, food businesses, restaurants or individuals who have surplus food and have wholesome produce who want to donate food.

“People who want to host a community fridge at their home or at their church, school, community center, or their business can reach out by e-mailing Erin Meyer at [email protected], and we can help them start one and even donate a fridge.

“Individuals can find ways to help. Karen McComb is painting the newer fridges. She helped paint some of the utility boxes in connection with the City of Merced project. The one for the Winton Lifeline has the colors of a rainbow to show diversity, and it has a grocery bag and some produce painted on it; we try and incorporate equity, diversity and inclusion into all our practices including the location of our fridges and the paintings on the fridges.”

For a virtual viewing option to celebrate the new Winton Lifeline People’s Fridge and the one-year anniversary of the People’s Fridge in Merced, residents can register online at: https://bit.ly/WintonLPF.

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