CHICAGO — For the last several months, refrigerators displaying colorful artwork have been popping up all around the city, offering fresh produce and other free food items in areas with food insecurity. It’s a concept one former Chicagoan said he discovered while living in New York.
As a photographer and musician, he called on friends in the art community and together they created a way to share food and spread love.
Ramon “Radius” Norwood is one of Chicago’s Very Own.
Norwood’s passion is what drew him to form the Love Fridge, which consists of multiple refrigerators stationed throughout Chicago neighborhoods designed to ease food insecurity 24/7 to anyone in need.
“Anybody can come drop food or take food, it’s not discrimination it’s for everybody,” he said.
Norwood came up with the idea of citywide open refrigerators after a visit to New York last summer.
He’s all about healthy eating, and with the pandemic, he thought it was the perfect time to bring the “fridge” concept back home. In July, through Instagram and the web, he and some of his friends launched the Love Fridge. The welcoming refrigerators are stocked with milk, eggs, cheese and even cooked meat, but the real focus is on supplying fresh produce.
“Mostly plant based a lot of reasons for that its, outside of my own a lot of us are into that, we want to promote more of a healthier conscious living, and a log of the communities that the fridges are going into are known as food deserts,” Norwood said.
Anyone can donate food items, within the guidelines. Norwood has also formed a partnership with various companies like Imperfect Foods and KitchFix to help stock the refrigerators. With 18 of them throughout the city, a volunteer team manages each site.
Stone Temple Church is the host in the North Lawndale neighborhood — using fresh veggies from the church garden to fill the fridge.
“It just makes me bubble to see people feeling free to come, no judgement no condemnation, you just come get the food and take it home to your family,” Reshorna Fitzpatrick, the executive pastor at Stone Temple Church, said.
Photographer by trade, he thought the fridges needed a little pizzazz. So her offered a blank canvas to his artist friends to work their magic and showcase their work to the commuity at the same time.
The refrigerators are powered by the hosts but the underlying message is powered by kindness and love.
The strategy has worked well so far. And Norwood was blown away by the generosity of people in the community. His focus now is sustaining the refrigerators through the winter.
In a time when the universe seems so divided, he said he feels good that this is something that can bring people from all walks of life together.
“You can spread love this way,” he said. “You got some crazy karmic debts to deal with go buy some food and put it in here. And watch how you feel about it.”