Since the start of the pandemic, Philly has seen a boom in mutual aid. That’s especially true when it comes to community fridges and pantries that allow anyone with extra food to donate directly and anyone who needs it to take it.

Most, if not all, of the area’s community fridges are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and don’t require any registration to give or take food — aid can happen at any time.

By our count, there are well over 30 of these spots throughout the city — up from the 25 or so when The Inquirer last checked in April. And they’re constantly being used, regularly requiring stocking, volunteers to keep things running, and monetary donations to help with their efforts.

“[The fridges] look completely different every eight hours. There is an incredible amount of turnover,” says Victoria Martin-Nelson, a volunteer with South Philadelphia Community Fridge, which operates four fridges and pantries in South Philly. “People are struggling — they were struggling before the pandemic, and people will be struggling as [much] or more after the pandemic.”

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While food insecurity is present year-round, it may become front-of-mind for many folks around holidays like Thanksgiving, which is particularly food-focused. But, notes Coral Street Fridge cofounder Matt Stebbins, donating to community fridges can and should be a “lifelong practice.”

“This isn’t about the next two weeks,” Stebbins says. “Food insecurity isn’t going to be solved on New Year’s Day. It’s about making this a part of your life.”

So, who runs Philly’s community fridges, and where can they be found? And what can you find or donate there? Here is what you need to know.

» READ MORE: Philly’s community fridge scene is booming.

Mama-Tee Fridge

With nearly 20 community fridges and a pop-up grocery store, Mama-Tee has spots throughout the city you can support. Fridges are cleaned and filled weekly by a team of volunteers, which you can join by emailing the organization at hello@mama-tee.com.

Mama-Tee’s fridges are located at:

What you can donate:

Fruits, vegetables, dairy, pantry items (so long as they are properly packaged and have ingredients listed), hot dogs, bread (must be sealed and not expired), water, juice (low-sugar if possible). Drop off these items at any Mama-Tee location.

You can make a monetary donation via the organization’s GoFundMe page.

Don’t bring:

Any expired or unlabeled food, any nonfood items, leftovers, improperly packaged food, candy or candied items, condiment packets, peanut butter, very salty or sugary snacks, baked goods, meat (raw or cooked), opened food, homemade meals.

South Philadelphia Community Fridge

This organization serves many families with young children, as well as many unhoused people, with its four locations , Martin-Nelson says. Fridges are checked twice daily, and the organization is always looking for help — you can fill out a volunteer interest form online, or email the organization at southphlcommunityfridge@gmail.com, or direct-message on Instagram.

You can find South Philly Community Fridge locations at:

What you can donate:

Cooked meat and seafood; premade meals (labeled in English and Spanish with ingredients, common allergens, and the date it was made); fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs; bread and pastries, dairy and eggs; rice, pasta, grains, and beans; pantry staples like sugar, flour, cooking oil, spices, and condiments; snacks like granola bars or prepackaged sandwiches; bottled water and sports drinks.

Monetary donations are accepted via Venmo and Cash App. Or, you can buy items from the organization’s Target registry, which are then shipped to a volunteer’s home and placed at a fridge location. You can also go shopping for the fridges on your own, and email the organization a receipt for the items you donated to be reimbursed up to $35 via Venmo or Cashapp (or you can just buy some of the organization’s swag, the profits of which benefit the operation).

Don’t bring:

Raw meat and seafood; leftovers; unlabeled or expired food items; alcohol; in general, anything you wouldn’t eat yourself or feed to your loved ones.

» READ MORE: Find the best free things to do in the city in our weekly free events calendar.

Fridges and Family

Launched in early 2021 , Fridges and Family today has three locations in Philly, and one in East Orange, N.J. — cofounder Justin Battle’s hometown. To volunteer your help with tasks like picking up and dropping off food, running social media accounts, or anything else, fill out the volunteer form on the organization’s website, email communityfridgeorganization@gmail.com, or direct-message on Instagram.

Philly fridge and pantry locations can be found at:

What you can donate:

Their locations focus on “the essentials you would want in your home,” Battle says, such as:

Canned goods; eggs; milk and other dairy products; water and juice; bread; fruit and vegetables; rice; hot dogs; toiletries and hygiene products.

If you want to donate money, that’s best done through the organization’s Cash App, or by buying an e-gift card. And to donate to the Temple University location, buy items from an Amazon wishlist, which will be sent to an organizer who will stock them at that location (the Temple location is inside the 1940 dorm, and isn’t accessible to the public).

Don’t bring:

Unpackaged or expired items; home-cooked meals.

Germantown Community Fridge

Founder Jane Ellis launched this group in 2020, which today has two Germantown fridges and pantry locations that accept a wide variety of items. Fridge checks are done twice daily, and you can volunteer to help with those by filling out volunteer forms for either location on Sign Up Genius — or, if you want to shop for the fridge or help with food pickups, contact the organization via email at germantownfridge@gmail.com or by direct-message on Instagram.

Find Germantown Community Fridge locations at:

What you can donate:

Feel free to drop off any of the following at either location (be sure to take any trash with you and keep the spaces organized):

Bread; homemade or premade meals (labeled with common allergens, date it was made, ingredients); milk; eggs; frozen meat and seafood; fresh and frozen produce; vegan items; gluten-free items; baby food and formula; grab-and-go snacks; canned food with pop-tops (especially soup); spices and condiments; pasta; rice; diapers and baby wipes; menstrual supplies; toiletries and hygiene products; PPE items; reusable plastic and paper bags; can openers; new and unexpired dog and cat food.

To donate money that helps keeps the fridges stocked and running, you can use Cash App or Venmo. Or you can buy food from the organization’s Amazon wish list that will be shipped to a volunteer who will stock your items.

Don’t bring:

Clothing; cooking pans; opened, partially used, unpackaged, expired, or unlabeled items; raw meat; alcohol.

Coral Street Fridge

This Kensington-based organization operates a fridge, pantry, and bookshelf at its Coral Street location, where a wide variety of items are accepted, Stebbins and cofounder Anthony Perez say. You can volunteer to help with food running, cleaning, and coordinating; contact organizers by email at coralstreetfridge@gmail.com, or by message on Instagram.

Find Coral Street Fridge’s spot at 2670 Coral St.

What you can donate:

Home-cooked and prepackaged meals (labeled with common allergens, the date it was made, and ingredients); cooked meat and seafood; fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen); bread and pastries; dairy and eggs; rice, grains, pasta, and beans; pantry items like sugar, flour, cooking oil, spices, and condiments; canned foods with peelable lids; individually packaged snacks (like small bags of chips or Tastykakes); bottled water; feminine hygiene products; diapers; naloxone; books.

Monetary donations can be made via Venmo, Cash App, or PayPal. If you want to donate items directly, you can drop them off at the fridge.

Don’t bring:

Unpackaged, unlabeled, expired, or open items; raw meat and seafood; alcohol; leftovers.

» READ MORE: Community fridges are all over Philly.

East Falls Community Fridge

With its single location, East Falls Community Fridge aims to provide as much as possible for the neighborhood with a fridge, freezer, and pantry by focusing on keeping staple fridge and pantry items and homemade meals in stock, says organizer Sarah Komins. You can volunteer for fridge check-ins, deep-cleans, and weekly shopping via the group’s form on Sign Up Genius.

If you use the fridge to get food, you can fill out a form requesting certain items via this survey on Google.

Find East Falls Community Fridge at 3507 Midvale Ave.

What you can donate:
The fridge accepts items including:

Fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen); eggs; bread and pastries; prepackaged meals; homemade meals (in a sealed container labeled with the date it was made, a best-by date, and ingredients); dairy items such as cheese, milk, and yogurt (as long as it is packaged and labeled); canned goods; vegan items; toiletries (in limited amounts)

To make a monetary donation, check out the group on Venmo.

Don’t bring:

Raw meat; leftovers; open, unlabeled, or expired items; alcohol; clothing.

Cedar Park Community Fridge

This site in the Cedar Park / Squirrel Hill area of West Philly has a community fridge, deep freezer and dry goods pantry that primarily serves families, unhoused people and LGBTQ youth. It is stocked with groceries twice a month, and from food donations.

Find Cedar Park Community Fridge at 4819 Springfield Ave.

What you can donate:

Staples (milk, juice, bread, butter, eggs, cheese, rice, pasta, flour, root vegetables); grab-and-go items (fruit cups, cheese sticks, snack packs); frozen foods (meats, pasta, microwavable foods, ice cream); prepared foods (single serve, packaged, labeled with date); dry goods (toiletries and sanitary products, first aid supplies, boxed and canned foods).

Don’t bring:

Leafy greens, opened portions, unlabled food, leftovers, alcohol.

Other community fridges in Philly

In addition to the above list, there are many, many others that you can visit or support. If you want to help, they will take food donations, monetary donations, and volunteers. For the most part, their needs are similar, but it’s best to reach out to them before donating if you have questions.

Here are additional Philadelphia community fridges:

Did we miss your local community fridge, or would you like to have yours added to the list? Email us at phillytips@inquirer.com.

Expert sources:
  • Victoria Martin-Nelson, communications volunteer with South Philadelphia Community Fridge.

  • Jane Ellis, founder of Germantown Community Fridge.

  • Sarah Komins, organizer with East Falls Community Fridge.

  • Cynthia Miller, administrative team member at Mama-Tee Fridge.

  • Justin Battle, cofounder of Fridges and Family.

  • Matt Stebbins, cofounder of Coral Street Fridge.

  • Anthony Perez, cofounder of Coral Street Fridge.

» READ MORE: Live your best life in Philly: Read our most useful stories here.