The Community Fridge Project – FrigoFree
When you walk through the doors of ASJ Memorial in Thetford Mines, you notice a soft blue light peeking out from around the corner. It leads to a small fridge with a clear door, tucked into a room just off the main office. This mini fridge has a name - FrigoFree, and it invites students to take a healthy snack if they are hungry, otherwise to leave a healthy snack for someone else. Staff at the school agree: “The students think it is a wonderful idea. They are just as excited about placing items in the community fridge from their own lunch as they are about receiving free food. They really get the idea of community and giving back. I think that it is a great lesson on sharing and not wasting.”
Student selecting a healthy snack
at the FrigoFree.
Receiving a cheque for $1000 to
purchase healthy snacks.
Receiving a cheque from alumnus to
purchase the fridge for snacks.
The principal and the teachers agree that providing healthy snacks to all ensures that all students have the opportunity to have something healthy to eat. Many students that attend the school travel from rural locations, spending as much as one hour on the bus every morning. Some families are not able to provide snacks or meals for their children, and they come to school hungry. Teachers agree that students can't focus and learn when they are hungry and the fact that the FrigoFree is open to all, at no cost, makes it user-friendly. “I believe that most of our students have quality snacks in the lunch boxes but for those few who don't, it's great that these options are now always available to them,” says one teacher. This is important for principal Stephen Renaud, who is conscious of the challenge to feed children in need “without stigmatizing them.”
The idea for the FrigoFree was introduced to the school by Community Development Agent (CDA) Michelle Mathieu, as a way to address the health and well-being needs of the students. As a CDA, Michelle communicates the needs of the school to stakeholders and community members, writes grants and applies for funding to help coordinate projects, programs and activities that will benefit the school and the community.
For this project, they received a grant of 1000$ dollars from Metro (grocery store), which allows them to provide students with healthy snacks every week. That caught the attention of an alumnus who returned to speak to the students during an assembly earlier in the year. He described his experience with a heartfelt story: “My father was in the military and we were always moving from town to town. I never had a place where I could settle in, until I came to ASJ. I loved the school, the spirit, and the caring staff; I have fond memories here, and this school has always made me feel like I was home.” He concluded his speech by donating funds to the school, including the sum required to purchase a mini fridge for the free, healthy snacks.
Moving forward, it won’t be the adults who decide what goes into the FrigoFree. Students in the Pathway program are currently involved and learning a new skill - that of eating healthy on a budget, by looking at the grocery store flyers and making healthy choices with the specials indicated for that specific week. Involving people at the school and community levels helps ensure sustainability - a continued offering of a service that is needed and desired, by and for the students.
Central Quebec School Board
Address: 919, rue Mooney Ouest, Thetford Mines, Québec G6G 6H3
Geographic Region: Chaudière-Appalaches
CLC Since: 2016
Community Development Agent: Michelle Mathieu