Jackson Heights Community Fridge block party celebrates two years of feeding those in need

Jackson Heights Community Fridge event
Residents come out for free activities and food distribution at Jackson Heights Block Party hosted by local food pantry. (Photo by Adrian Childress)

About 150 people attended the Jackson Heights Block Party at Travers Park on Saturday, Aug. 6 to celebrate a local food pantry that has helped to feed the community for two years.

Residents enjoyed free mini golf, performances and more to honor the two-year anniversary of the Jackson Heights Community Fridge launch, which started during the middle of the pandemic on Aug. 8, 2020. 

Jackson Heights community fridge
Free mini golf at Jackson Heights Block Party. (Photo by Adrian Childress)

“We started this mutual aid project in the middle of a pandemic where our community was hit the hardest and we needed each other the most,” said organizer Amy Pinilla. “The block party was also a reminder that the pandemic is not over and we must continue to show up and care for each other as neighbors and community members.”

The block party started with a distribution of 300 hot meals, 10 boxes of PPE, 100 at-home COVID-19 tests and 100 free ice creams provided by a local street vendor. Then, a vendor pop-up was hosted by Kaleidospace and Street Vendor Project, two groups that provide support to local vendors.

Jackson Heights community fridge
Volunteers hand out PPE and other supplies to locals in Jackson Heights. (Photo by Adrian Childress)

Pinilla said the Jackson Heights Community Fridge is still  going strong and able to feed about 25 people a week with the help of local volunteers. The fridge relies on food and monetary donations. Last year, the pantry received a generous grant from the Citizens Committee for New York City. 

“We’re just a couple of kids from Jackson Heights who came together and put a public fridge in our hood, we don’t really receive any other funding,” Pinilla said. “We started selling t-shirts to fundraise, and we have some folks who donate on a regular basis. We rely on our community to keep the fridge running.”

The fridge hopes to make the block party an annual event for the community, but since they are unpaid volunteers, it might be difficult.