Using social media and community organizing skills, one WSU grad is tackling hunger by putting refrigerators exactly where they’re needed, and filling them up.
Tajahnae Stocker has been learning how to implement an idea that will help her community as part of a national Young Professionals program. She wanted to address food insecurity, even before COVID-19. Now, she’s making a difference in a fresh way, with the ICT Community Fridge Project.
"I was like, ‘Hey, I want to put a fridge in a business!’ I set up the Instagram, set up the GoFundMe. My goal was $1,500 for securing the fridge and doing the first re-stock. On day one, I met my goal, by day two I doubled it, and by day three I had $4,000.
"We have one at Dead Center Vintage, my favorite vintage store. And it’s across from Naftzger Park too, it’s just in a good area. They really make it their own, they provided a shelf for canned goods, and then someone there provided crates too. So now we collect cans, hygiene products, baby food, diapers—that is like a mini free store inside of the vintage store. The second location is at CHD Boxing Club, which is in 67214, which is where I wanted to be because that is our largest [food] desert in Wichita.
"So when I go in to donate food or to clean it up, especially to Dead Center, I just see a lot of people in there, utilizing the fridge. And it’s a lot sometimes. Students at Wichita State, them telling me, ‘This got me through the week because I didn’t know how else I was going to do it.’ And we joke about that. I joked about that in college too, you know…‘Having sleep for dinner.’
"I just know it’s a good thing. And now we have a food shelter, and hopefully we’re going to find a home. The goal is always to get a grocery store in these areas, so people have access to good food. This is just a Band-Aid."