The Love Fridge addresses food insecurity through mutual-aid


Matt Petres

Hyde Park’s Love Fridge is located at the Augustana Lutheran Church on 55th and Woodlawn. The fridge is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for drop-offs and pick-ups.

Anathea Carrigan, Managing Editor

“If every family at the Lab Schools bought one extra bag of groceries one time, we collectively could fill the nearest Love Fridge for 6 years,” Sarah Hoehn, manager of the Love Fridge at Augustana Church, said.

But, for this to begin to be a possibility, students at Lab first must become aware of the Love Fridge, its mission and why it exists. The Love Fridge is a mutual aid group based in Chicago that builds structures to house community fridges and pantries that are filled by others in the community. 

The Love Fridge is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to anyone. There are no restrictions as to who can use it.

Dr. Hoehn is a physician at Comer Children’s Hospital and part of Solidarity Lab, which wants to address food insecurity in Hyde Park. When Solidarity Lab learned of the Love Fridge last fall, members reached out to the organization and began to research locations where they could place the fridge.

“We met with university leadership, but many sidewalks are owned by the city,” Dr. Hoehn said. “One of our own Lab parents, Yael Hoffman, found both the fridge, which was donated by a Lab family, and the location at Augustana Church.”

Many of Dr. Hoehn’s patients’ families struggle with food insecurity. 

“We once saw an adolescent who was not speaking much, and was just laying down in the exam room,” Dr. Hoehn said. “Once we offered her some juice, she shared that she had not eaten in three days since she had no access to food.”

As the manager of the Love Fridge in Augustana Church, Dr. Hoehn checks the fridge two to three times every week, manages the volunteer and donation sign-up website and cleans the fridge weekly.

The goal is for the fridge to be stocked with a variety of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Community organizations have helped to keep it stocked.

“Many community gardens have contributed fresh fruits and vegetables, and we are very appreciative,” Dr. Hoehn said. “There is a pantry for dried goods, pasta, soups and hygiene products, and then both a fridge and freezer.” 

Donating to the fridge is fairly easy. 

Dr. Hoehn said, “if you have yogurts in your fridge that are not expired but you will not eat, then just drop them off at the fridge and they will be consumed within 24 hours.”

The need for the Love Fridge is apparent, as most donations are gone within 24 hours.

“I think of the fridge as an extension of my family,” Dr. Hoehn said. “The goal is for the fridge to be stocked just as our own are at home.”