Illustration for article titled An outdoor fridge in Brooklyn is stocked with food for anyone who needs it
Photo: Sydnee Novak

Living in New York has always provided daily opportunities for surprise and consternation, but sensationalized news broadcasts across the country make the city seem as if the COVID-19 pandemic has made the city devolve into full-on Escape From New York, The Warriors-style chaos. While things definitely don’t feel even close to normal here, some of the most pernicious problems are unemployment, a lack of medical equipment, and food insecurity.

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Thankfully, New Yorkers are stepping up to help each other out. According to local news site NY1, a neighborhood coalition of nonprofits, restaurants, grocery stores, and individuals have teamed up to stock and operate an outdoor fridge in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. The fridge, which offers free food to anyone who needs it, is located outside 133 Van Buren Street and is being watched over by Thadeaus Umpster, a self-described “anarchist & professional up-cycler.”

While people are free to both take food and leave donations at any time of day or night, Umpster’s Instagram account specifically credits organizations such as vegetarian nonprofit Community Solidarity, NYC-based anarchist network A New World In Our Hearts, and Universe City NYC, an aquaponics farm based in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of East New York and Brownsville. And, thankfully, there are many other organizations helping to provide assistance to people. The NYC Department of Education is providing three meals a day to anyone who wants them, while business-focused initiatives like Welcome to Chinatown and the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation provide support to workers and help promote businesses impacted by the pandemic.

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If you know about any other people or organizations that are doing great work, let us know in the comments.

Jacob Dean is a food and travel writer and psychologist based in New York. He likes beer, less traveled airports, and is allergic to grasshoppers (the insect, not the mixed drink.)

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