The Hive Cafe’s newest Community Fridge

The newly-launched Megan’s Community Fridge offers free food for students facing food insecurity. CATHERINE REYNOLDS/The Concordian

A step to fight food insecurity for students.

 The Hive Cafe on Concordia’s Loyola Campus recently welcomed Megan’s Community Fridge. Students were buzzing with excitement. 

Megan’s Community Fridge is a big step in fighting food insecurity for students. Megan Clarke, a Concordia alumna, was the inspiration for this amazing project. Clarke was present at the Hive Cafe on Monday and helped set up the fridge alongside Enuf, an organization fighting the waste crisis.

Courtesy photo provided by Désirée McGraw. (From left to right: Désirée McGraw, Keroles Riad, Megan Clarke, and Alanna Silver)

The Concordian sat with Keroles Riad, the CEO of Enuf and one of the minds behind the Community Fridge. Riad explained that it wasn’t exactly simple to get the project up and running at Concordia.

“Students have been trying to convince the administration to set up a community fridge for at least 10 years, and they have consistently been stalled and eventually turned down,” he said. “We looked for spaces where community groups have a level of autonomy. The Hive Cafe was just perfect, because they already do a lot of work fighting food insecurity on campus, and so they are already reaching the people that need the additional help and they autonomously operate their own spaces on both campuses.”

With the installation of this new fridge, keeping it well-stocked is one of the challenges it currently faces. Riad explained that the fridge will be stocked from the surplus of food that is left over from events happening over the year. 

Waste ambassadors from Enuf will gather all the food and bring it to Megan’s Community Fridge. 

Clarke sat down with The Concordian and explained what the motivation to start this community fridge was. 

“When I was a teenager I found myself in a really tough situation, I was couch surfing and I used to dumpster dive,” Clarke recalled. “My friends and I noticed at a certain point that the dumpsters were being locked to stop people like myself from getting food. At the time, I didn’t have a valid ID to participate in food banks.”

Clarke worked three jobs to get herself out of that situation. Her struggles with food always lingered at the back of her mind and when she began university, she realized that not everyone could get out of the same situation like her.

“I started Food Cycle while I was at Concordia and we would take leftover food and give it to homeless shelters, women’s shelters and so on,” Clarke said.

Megan Clarke in front of the new Megan’s Community Fridge at the Hive Cafe on Concordia’s Loyola Campus. DALIA NARDOLILLO/The Concordian

That’s what kickstarted the idea for the Community Fridge. However, when the pandemic first came along, people became fearful that the virus would be pushed onto food which put a standstill on the project.

Enuf, in partnership with the Hive Cafe, finally got the project going. Working at the Hive Cafe, Alanna Silver is also an integral part of this community fridge. Silver is FoodSafe certified and acts as Enuf’s Chief Operating Officer and the Hive’s administrative coordinator. Riad explained that Silver will ensure the safety of the community being served and have the final say of what goes in the Community Fridge.

“​​I feel so grateful to have the privilege of taking part in making this project a reality,” Riad said proudly. “It is truly heartbreaking to know that 40 per cent of students in Canada say that they have to choose between paying tuition and buying enough food, at a time when we, in Canada, throw away more than half the food we produce. There is surplus food, and there are hungry student tummies. It shouldn’t have been this complicated to try to connect the two.”

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