The Kelowna Community Fridge has found a new home at a trendy hair salon downtown Kelowna.
Burke Hair Lounge jumped at the opportunity to host the food exchange initiative when the collective’s previous location could no longer accommodate the fridge.
“It’s a safe place for anybody from any walk of life to come and take what they need and leave what they can,” said Burke Hair Lounge owner Lisa Burke.
The fridge is anonymous to access and open to all people 24 hours a day, seven days a week after re-opening on Feb. 1.
Ollie O’Neal, volunteer with the community food initiative, explained that reducing barriers to accessing food is important for people who are undocumented, don’t have a fixed address, don’t have identification, can’t or don’t want to access regular food banks, have needs beyond what the social supports can provide, or are just hungry.
“I am beyond grateful, empowered, excited and honoured that the Kelowna Community Fridge was gracious enough to take a chance on our location.”
Burke said that she wanted to give back to the community that had supported her over the years. She knew that her shop would be a great fit because it is in a central location on Lawrence Avenue, that is easily accessed and frequented by a wide variety of people.
She opened the cruelty-free salon, seven years ago and has since fostered a diverse community of “underdogs and wallflowers,” where everyone is welcome.
“We love to give back to our community.”
The mutual aid project was started in 2021, sparked by an increased demand for access to nutrition due to the pandemic. The fridge is regularly emptied and filled multiple times each day.
Donations of fresh and non perishable food are welcome, but any pre-prepared items must be packaged in a certified food-safe facility. More information is available on their Instagram and Facebook. Instead of dropping food off directly to the fridge, people are also able to donate online with a re-occurring donation or to the online GoFundMe.