Community fridge available for Norwalk residents


Angie Croll, with Food Rescue sponsored by the Norwalk Ministerial Association, and Jean Strable, director of the Norwalk Library, with the Norwalk area Community Fridge.
MARK DAVITT / Independent Advocate

A community fridge was installed at the Norwalk Easter Public Library last fall that offers free food during library hours. Library Director Jean Strable said the food is available for everyone.

“If you eat food then the community fridge contents are for you, too,” Strable said. 

Library officials were interested in providing additional services for patrons. They worked with Eat Greater Des Moines to receive a free refrigerator. The organization installed it in mid-September. The refrigerator is helped stocked by the food rescue organization Supply Hive in Des Moines. Volunteers help to collect food and keep the fridge clean.

“It was a slow start because it takes people a while to get used to the idea that, ‘Oh, this is for me,’” Strable said. “We’re really trying to get people to use it.”

The two main goals of the service is to reduce food waste and be a resource for people in need of food. Strable said the refrigerator now makes the library a one-stop shop for busy parents who might be there to get books or movies, but also could use a bag of salad or fruit.

“We can feed people’s minds with library materials and feed their tummies as well with the community fridge,” Stable said.

The library also takes food donations. They received 16 dozen fresh eggs from Armadillo Acres. Leftover catering from the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce luncheon was put in pre-portioned containers to add to the fridge. Gardeners shared their harvest extras last fall bringing in tomatoes, cucumbers and other produce. Library officials hope to purchase a small shelf or rack to place next to the fridge for donations of canned goods and dried foods. 

“We would just really like to encourage community members to utilize it by bringing food in or stopping by to see if there’s food in there,” Strable said.

The Indianola Public Library added a community fridge in June of 2021. Since then, it has been used every single day, said Library Director Michele Patrick. Their refrigerator was donated by Helping Hand, who also helps keep it stocked and clean.

“We are a very busy building so it’s a good way for everyone in the community to access it,” Patrick said. “It’s a very good service. It’s needed. It’s used.”

Community refrigerators can also be found at Simpson College, Milo Locker, New Virginia Public Library, Truro Public Library and Lacona Public Library.

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