Totally Giving Back

Totally Giving Back: Community fridges fight hunger

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An organization of volunteers and donors are helping battle food insecurity and waste in the Germantown district of Philadelphia.

The Germantown Community Fridges team debuted in 2020 to provide free food and other items to anyone in need. A refrigerator and pantry can be accessed 24/7 at a pair of locations on West Armat and East High streets.

Dozens of volunteers and community members regularly fill and maintain each fridge and pantry with donated perishable and non-perishable items.

“Our neighborhood is one of the most underserved in the city, and every day we meet folks who rely on the fridges for their next meal,” explained volunteer Sofya Piro.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of the program

Piro said the Germantown Community Fridges team shops for groceries, picks up donations, cleans the sites and takes out trash.

“It’s truly a community effort,” Piro added.

They stock the refrigerators with fruits, vegetables, meals and dairy products, and fill the pantries with non-perishables such as toiletries and dog food.

The program’s helpers also monitor the sites to ensure rules are followed. For example, alcohol cannot be donated and homecooked meals must be properly labeled with ingredients and expiration dates.

Totally staff pitches in with donated bags

Totally Promotional recently donated several hundred tote bags for the program’s annual birthday celebration. The Germantown Community Fridges team packed the bags with produce, non-perishables, dairy products, toiletries, pet supplies, hygiene items and baby products. The bags were distributed to hundreds of Philadelphians.

“Your wonderful bags made it possible for many of these folks to carry these items home,” Piro said. “We also hope these sturdy canvas bags will continue serving them when they come by our fridges in the future.”

Piro said the bags were especially helpful to their program due to a recent plastic bag ban in Philadelphia.

“Even something as cheap as a reusable grocery bag can be financially out of reach for many people in our city,” she said.

How to help

The Germantown Community Fridges, started by Jane Ellis, is always in need of volunteers and donations. Helpers are needed for site check-ins, weekly deep cleaning, making sandwiches, donation pickup, grocery runs, cooking meals and outreach.

You can sign up to help here. Monetary and food donations can be completed here.

Totally Giving Back is a program supported by and its staff to help individuals and groups in need. We believe it is important to give back to our local communities and spread hope to others around the world.

Learn more about Totally Giving Back and how the team at is making a difference.