School creates community refrigerators to help families experiencing food insecurity

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Posted at 10:34 AM, May 26, 2021

ANTIOCH, Tenn. — More than 35 million people experience hunger in the United States, and households with children are more likely to experience food insecurity.

Cole Elementary School in Antioch, Tennessee, is trying to help its students and families by providing community refrigerators.

“In January, we officially cut the ribbon on the two refrigerators and opened it up to our community. We truly just have an opportunity for the refrigerators to be open for community members to come in, get what they need,” Cole Elementary School Principal Chad Hedgepath said.

The community fridges are the result of a partnership with Mayor John Cooper’s office, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and a medical student from Vanderbilt, according to Hedgepath.

Hedgepath says anyone can stop by the fridges to pick up food.

The school tries to encourage the facility and staff to keep the fridges stocked with items, but they rely a lot on community members to keep them full, too.

A group of young girls from My Best Friends Club has been leading the charge to keep the fridges stocked with food. They recently made several trips to the store with their mothers to buy eggs, milk, and frozen dinners.

The group’s founder, 10-year-old Maliah Barker, said it feels good to help others.

“It made me feel really good. I know it's like a nice thing to do, so that's why I'm really doing it,” Barker said.

Barker and her friends want to keep the community fridges stocked up, and they’re hoping more people pitch in to help.

Maliah Barker’s mom, Alisha, was thrilled to help her daughter give back.

“The moment I saw it when they opened it, I was like, 'this is amazing.' From then on, we had planned to help keep this operating because I don't want it to go away. The way to keep it here is to have the community come out and help. The school, you know, can't physically keep it stocked all the time, so it takes us as a community to do that,” said Alisha Barker, My Best Friends Club co-founder.

The school year is coming to an end, but the community fridges will stay open during the summer.

If you have some excess food or want to give backdrop food off at the fridges. There are some rules; like only take three items and no canned food items in the fridges.

The community fridges are located behind the school’s office building at 5060 Colemont Dr, Antioch, TN 37013.

This story was originally published by Aaron Cantrell at WTVF.