Ritter community fridge relocated

The decision came after a reevaluation of the Cherry Pantry’s electrical system.

After removing the fridge from Ritter Annex, One Health Club and Sharing Excess have collaborated with Cherry Pantry to find a replacement. | MOLLY FISKE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

When Olivia Weaver, president of Temple Sharing Excess, learned the Ritter community fridge was being relocated, she was shocked. 

“We collaborate with them all the time, so there’s such a streamline of communication between all of us, in previous projects, we were continuously talking about plans and goals, so I think for that to be the first we heard of it, we were just a little taken aback by that,” said Weaver, a senior gender, sexuality and women’s studies and communication and social influence double major.

Temple Sharing Excess, a chapter of the Philadelphia nonprofit, and Temple One Health Club, a chapter of the sustainability organization One Health Initiative, work together to operate the Ritter community fridge. On Jan. 27, the student organizations were informed by Cherry Pantry staff that the fridge in Ritter Annex would be moved to the Cherry Pantry in the Howard Gittis Student Center. 

The decision came after a reevaluation of the electrical system in the Cherry Pantry revealed the space in the Student Center could support a fridge, wrote Annette Ditolvo, coordinator of Cherry Pantry, in an email to The Temple News.

“We believe there is an injustice taking place and we’re incredibly disappointed in the handling of this whole situation,” OHC wrote in a statement on Jan. 31. “We support the Cherry Pantry’s mission and we celebrate any and all long term goals they hold, but we wish it wasn’t gained on the backs of the community.”

Since the fridge was removed, OHC and Temple Sharing Excess have worked with Cherry Pantry to find a replacement fridge. Cherry Pantry staff has connected Temple OHC and Sharing Excess with the Social Service Annex to find a new fridge loaned to the clubs as a replacement for the Ritter community fridge.

“This refrigerator should be in the space as soon as next week,” Ditolvo wrote. “Pantry staff are committed to working with both student organizations for a longer term solution.”

The collaboration between Temple Sharing Excess and OHC began last spring after discovering they could not secure refrigeration for the Cherry Pantry, they decided to utilize the already-existing refrigerator in Ritter Annex for produce storage and distribution.

Most of the supplies for the Ritter community fridge were contributed by Sharing Excess, which connects businesses that have a food surplus with people facing food insecurity. Temple’s chapter of Sharing Excess then works with OHC to coordinate produce distribution events, which are typically biweekly.

The produce events have become popular with the Temple community and staff at Ritter Hall, and they often run out of produce within an hour of the start of their events. 

“I’ve had security guards who have whispered to me, ‘Hey, I’m on shift right now, I can’t get produce but can you just leave me something?’ and I’ll be like, ‘Sure, I can grab you a crate,’” said Maanvi Nagireddy, a senior biology and environmental science double major and president of Temple’s OHC. 

Nagireddy was worried that the removal of the Ritter community fridge would disrupt the community who has relied on the produce events hosted there, especially those who cannot pick up food during the Cherry Pantry’s regular hours, she said. 

The day the fridge was moved from the Ritter Annex was the same day as a produce event that was meant to be a farewell to their fridge. However, the fridge was moved before the clubs arrived; they instead brought their food to the Bell Tower, where the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association was hosting a rally, in an effort to distribute the products.

“We essentially gave the produce to the graduate students and anyone that was sort of just walking by faculty, students, anyone could come by and get produce but we just wanted it to be as useful as possible, and for a lot of these grad students that are on their last paycheck, we knew that we could be serving a better, like more people by giving it out at the Bell Tower,” Nagireddy said. 

Nagireddy was determined to replace the fridge because of the community of people who depend on it.

“The janitors were the first to know, and seeing some of the janitors visibly upset that this fridge was moving made me so motivated that this cannot end here,” Nagireddy said. 

Despite previous communication challenges, Cherry Pantry and the operators of the Ritter community fridge will continue to work together to address food insecurity at Temple. 

“We received a lot of hope for future collaboration and we’re being let into their sort of rooms of conversation a lot more and at a higher rate now,” Weaver said.

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