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Bronx Residents Disheartened By New Bodega Owners Vowing To Remove Community Refrigerator

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In a Bronx neighborhood where 1 in 4 residents are considered food insecure, a bodega owner is giving the community fridge outside the boot.

Organizers say they were given just 48 hours notice, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Monday.

Neighbors are helping neighbors outside the freshly painted "Mott Haven fridge and pantry" located on East 141st Street near Saint Ann's Avenue.

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Video shows a typical Saturday night, when demand far exceeds supply. Several nonprofits, restaurants and even farms have stocked thousands of meals since September.

"We see the food turnover same day within a matter of minutes sometimes," said Ariadna Phillips of South Bronx Mutual Aid. "We have a significant portion of our community that is not going to qualify for food stamps."


But on Saturday, Daniel Zauderer, one of the local teachers who started the fridge, got a call from a representative of the bodega saying there are new owners and the fridge was getting evicted in 48 hours, which means sometime Monday it was to get picked up.

"It should be up to community to decide what happens with the fridge," Zauderer said. "All we can do is hope that nothing happens soon."

CBS2 reached a woman by phone who said she managed the bodega. She said the fridge was creating a garbage issue, something the neighbors dispute.

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"We have certain days where we try to clean it up, My day is Thursday. Someone else might be another day. So we try to maintain it clean," one neighbor said.

"We are willing to pay for electrician. We are willing to pay for the space," added Mott Haven resident Debby Robles.

"They are coming with children and donating. It's bringing us closer together," resident Sonia Taylor said. "It's really showing our kids no matter what happen we stick together."

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An online petition to keep the fridge has over 1,000 signatures and volunteers hope it brings the new bodega owners to the table to discuss a solution.

If not, organizers say $20,000 has been raised to buy a new fridge, paint it, and put it up at another bodega that wants it.

Because, like it or not, they say community fridges are now a part of the reality of the food crisis facing New York.


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