Taylor Scott, 25

Founder, RVA Community Fridges

It started with too many tomatoes.

Anyone who has ever grown them knows—when it’s time to pick your fruit, it’s time. “After graduating college, I had my own apartment and I figured I needed to cook for myself,” says VCU alum Taylor Scott. “I ended up getting a hydroponic farm stand in my apartment— it was taller than me! And I
started growing tomatoes, but then I had too many,” she laughs.

Scott was determined to find a good use for her extra produce, especially
since her whole goal was to create less waste. “A friend said I should put the
tomatoes at my local community fridge, and I said, ‘You know what, great idea.’
But then I couldn’t find any.”

A New Orleans native, Scott was familiar with this community-based concept; how hard could it be to put up her own fridge? “I went to my personal
Instagram, reaching out to the like, 300 people following me, asking ‘Who wants to help me do this?’”

The response surprised her. “A good number of people reached out,” says
Scott. “One friend had a fridge, another artist friend said they’d paint the fridge.” That first pink fridge, which Scott and her cohorts put together two-and-ahalf years ago, still stands.

Today, Scott heads up a small network of community fridges full-time.
There are currently 10 fridges (with accompanying pantries) placed around
the city, with plans for more to be installed at businesses in the South Side
and North Side. All the fridges have been donated, and Scott says they’re lucky
enough to have backup fridges in a storage unit. “The community has been so supportive,” says Scott. “I honestly didn’t know there were so many people out here doing the work until I started the fridges.”

The brightly painted fridges are constantly restocked but “never full,” says
Scott. There are specific guidelines attached to each fridge outlining what should and should not be donated—prepared food needs a label, no raw
meat except from local farms—but the main rule is: free food, for everyone.

“That is one of the biggest things that people appreciate about the
fridge,” says Scott. “It’s not like a lot of our food banks where you must show
ID or proof of residence. The fridges are free and accessible 24/7. Anyone can
take whatever they need, as much as they need—there’s no policing.”

Like her hydroponic farm stand, RVA Community Fridges grew much faster than Scott ever could have anticipated. And she’s determined to keep
nurturing it.

“We’re working on our nonprofit status right now,” says Scott. “Aside
from putting up more fridges, we’re looking to get land for ourselves. We
want a space where we can grow food and expand our educational outreach.
We have awesome community partners and connections—if we had land,
we’d have everything we need.”


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