UMaine student, Sodexo and partners bring community fridge to campus

University of Maine student Kate Flynn is worked with Sodexo Dining Services and other key partners to introduce a UMaine community fridge initiative that offers free, surplus cafeteria food to anyone in the campus community. 

The new Black Bear Community Fridge, located across from the University Bookstore on the first floor of the Memorial Union, officially opened at 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30. It’s available every day during union hours, from 7 a.m.-midnight. The refrigerator will be supplied and managed by Sodexo with support from Food Rescue MAINE, an initiative from the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions; students, the Black Bear Mutual Aid Fund group, the UMaine Green Team and other organizations. 

Flynn, a senior studying political science, spearheaded the effort to reduce food waste and feed the campus community as part of her internship with the Mitchell Center. 

“With data showing that over 30% of the food produced in the U.S. is never eaten, a community fridge is a great solution for redirecting potentially wasted food to feed people. By decreasing the amount of perfectly good food thrown away, we also decrease the methane emissions that food rotting in landfills produces. We can take care of each other while also taking care of the planet,” says Flynn.

Flynn will also research the efficacy of the fridge, collecting data on exactly how much food waste is reduced and the community benefits.  

Establishing the fridge was made possible by a grant from the Maine Hunger Dialogue, contributions from Sodexo and support from the Black Bear Exchange, UMaine Student Life and the University Credit Union. 

Volunteers are needed to assist with re-stocking the fridge from 7-8 a.m., Monday-Friday. Anyone interested in helping support the fridge can volunteer by filling out the form available here.