Volunteer ‘Hope Fridge’ celebrates one year providing free food in Neenah

The Hope Fridge in Neenah celebrated its first anniversary Sunday, marking 365 days of giving and feeding those who need it most.
Anyone in the community can anonymously drop off or take food they need.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:13 PM CDT
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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Hope Fridge in Neenah celebrated its first anniversary Sunday, marking 365 days of giving and feeding those who need it most.

The Hope Fridge is a community-stocked food pantry that looks to help those in need anonymously. It is open 24/7 and is open to everyone.

The fridge accepts fruits, vegetables, packaged foods, care products, non-perishables, and more. It looks to give name-brand food to those who can’t afford it, along with basic necessities.

In the one year, they have been open, the Hope Fridge has expanded, opening two more locations in Oshkosh. One inside Bowen Street Repeats, and one behind Wagner Market on Main street, in the market parking lot.

Founder TJ Hobbs said through the expansion they have been able to connect more people than ever before with the food they need, all thanks to constant donations from the community.

“Folks have started their own drives. We’ve had soccer clubs organize their own drives. We’ve had martial arts teams organize their own drives. We’ve had schools, email to tell us they’ve done a penny war. We didn’t even know that was happening until it was over. But yay,” Hobbs said.

While the progress has been great, Kris Larson with Wagner Market said through this initiative he’s seen just how big of a problem food insecurity is in the Fox Valley is, and says the area still has a long way to go.

“If you think it’s an issue, you have no idea. You do not have a clue. There could be 90 of these and that wouldn’t be enough,” Larson said. “I bet you it’s 10 to 12 times a day that it’s filled and emptied just by watching it happen, which is fascinating.”

“There are folks here that are struggling beyond what any of us will ever have to even think about. And it’s just remembering and keeping that at the forefront of whatever you do, that when you get up and you put, you know, 1, 2, 3 sandwiches in the fridge in the morning, that’s one or two or three people’s days you’re gonna make,” Hobbs said.

While organizers would love to expand again, they say right now their main goal is to keep the fridges they do have stocked and clean.

The Hope Fridge runs solely on volunteers and donations. To volunteer or learn more about the Hope Fridge, visit their website here.

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