Inflation is hitting Regina families hard.
Filling up at the gas station, recreation activities and buying groceries are all costing people more money. And the rising costs mean more demand on community fridges than ever.
At the community fridge in Cathedral village, the shelves are often bare as more and more people look to the community service with food and grocery prices at all-time highs.
According to the food analytics lab at Dalhousie University, food price increases in Saskatchewan will be higher than the national average in 2022.
“We’re very concerned for the young families, people with children who haven’t got the proper food to feed them,” said Bob Thomas, a community fridge user in Regina.
Some local residents are raising concerns that their community fridge is often lacking raw meats and protein.
They say they have been told by those who run the fridge that having raw meats in the fridge is too much of a food safety concern.
“The organizers have made a decision on the behalf of the community that it’s too much of a liability for us to make a choice to cook our own food so they’re choosing to cook it for us,” said Annamaria Holtskog.
Organizers said that since the fridge is not monitored 24-7 by people with their food safety certificate, they don’t allow high-risk raw meats to be delivered.
Brianna, one of the community fridge organizers, said the decision was made two years ago when the fridge was first being developed.
“If you have raw meat sitting on the top shelf and blood dripping down on the vegetables, that could literally end people’s life,” said Brianna. “So we just say don’t put any meat in the fridge.”
Organizers said raw meats are instead delivered to an industrial kitchen, usually at the Regina food bank, were meals are cooked using those meats and then brought back to the community fridge to be distributed.
Holtskog say they have yet to see any of those pre-cooked meals make it back to the fridge. The fridge organizers, however, say that is false.
“Ultimately at the end of the day our responsibility is hefty, feeding people is a large responsibility so of course we’re going to take it seriously,” Briana said.
A community fridge meeting is being held next week at the Unitarian church for all parties to come together and figure out effective ways to keep the fridge running.
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