NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The library trustees are considering a community refrigerator program pending city approval.
Community Fridge Program organizers Sarah Defusco and Isabel Twanmo met with the trustees Wednesday to see if the library would be interested in hosting a refrigerator from which community members could take food from.
"Earlier this year, we noticed a need for this kind of thing with the general loss of resources," Twanmo said. "... With this, you could at any point in the day have access to food right in your back yard."
The fridge will be stocked with fresh produce from local farms for whoever needs it.
Defusco said they are ready to go and have a group of volunteers, some funding, a refrigerator, and food connections.
"We have been ready to go for six months now," she said. "We felt there was no better place such as the library that already offers free resources."
The trustees were concerned about maintenance and were worried about food being left in the fridge.
Twanmo said this would not be an issue because the fridge would be monitored daily. Also, they must approve what is placed in the appliance so if anyone drops something off without approval, it will likely be thrown out that day.
She said this will be clearly writing in a disclaimer posted near the fridge.
She added that they want to start simple but perhaps in the future expand into prepared food.
"Over time I think we want to try prepared food and go with a more community effort," she said. "We do want this to grow over time but we understand we have to start simply."
She said eventually they would like to add more fridges.
The trustees liked the idea but there were a few lingering question marks around the project, specifically in terms of Health Department permitting.
"It fits with our strategic plan," Trustee Tara Jacobs said. "I personally am supportive but I think that it is important that we get the city's stamp of approval."
Library Director Sarah Sanfilippo said she reached out to the Health Department about the project but has yet to hear back
She said she reached out to her own professional network and learned of one other library in the state that has a community fridge. She learned that it is not allowed in Boston and one peer noted that the program was a lot of work
In other business, to jumpstart fundraising efforts, the trustees voted to create a fundraising subcommittee.
Jacobs noted that with the pandemic it is still hard to hold large-scale public fundraising events but had some other ideas including "adopting" a book.
"When books get retired, we just shuffle them off to the book sale but instead of that happening you can adopt it," she said. "You basically call dibs on it and get a bookplate."
She said they could also allow patrons to honor someone within a book.
The trustees agreed to purchase some bookplates.
The trustees welcomed new member Sara Russell-Scholl, the library's former children and youth services librarian.
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