Summerside community fridge reopening Friday, says mayor

The Summerside community fridge is set to reopen on Friday after being shut for more than a month due to a fire.

City will be committing $5,000 to the community fridge

A small red shed with white doors and a sign reading "Community Fridge" is shown on a snowy bit of land.
The Summerside community fridge will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The Summerside community fridge is set to reopen on Friday after being shut for more than a month following a fire.

The update was provided during a Summerside committee meeting Tuesday evening. 

"I'm just really excited that it's open again; the need's still there," said Mayor Dan Kutcher.

"There's a lot of community support behind it, which is fantastic." 

The fridge opened in November. As with others across the province, it was created to help people struggling to make ends meet. 

Summerside councilors sit at wooden desks in a circle at city hall during a council meeting.
Summerside's community fridge committee will remain in place a little longer to help support the fridge. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News)

The idea is to have members of the community stock the fridge with food donations while people in need are free to take anything they like. 

But in Summerside, concerns were raised that some people were misusing the service by taking too many items, perhaps for resale. There was also a request from organizers to move the fridge to a new location.

"I struck a community fridge committee here at council to look at a few of the issues that were going on," said Kutcher. 

"We really wanted to make sure that we were helping the community fridge succeed and figuring out any issues and helping them work through it as best we could."

New hours, same location

According to Kutcher, the community fridge now has a board of directors and hours of operation in place. The fridge will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. initially.

The fridge will also be staying in its current location on the corner of Foundry and Granville Street. 

"The city has kept the committee going so that if there are further discussions, if the board now wants to look at other locations, we're still here and we're still open and listening," said Kutcher.

"It's people in our community who are struggling who we want to be able to help out ... and we wanted to make sure we put some money behind the fridge to help it move forward."

Dan Kutcher, Mayor of Summerside, PEI.
'It's really positive and then at the same time, it really makes you feel like, jeez, there's so much more that we need to do in our community to support each other,' says Summerside Mayor Dan Kutcher. (Laura Meader/CBC)

He said the city has committed $5,000 to the project.

"We're in a really challenging time ... When you go to the grocery store, you sit back and look in your bags and think, 'Is that all I got?'" 

The reopening is bittersweet for Kutcher. On one hand, he said he's glad the service will be available to residents. On the other, he wishes the demand wasn't so strong. 

"I know people will use it. I know people will donate to it. I know it will help families, it'll help young kids, it'll help out vulnerable population, it will help those who don't have as much," he said.

"At the same time, you're sitting back and I wish we didn't have to do this, but we do. And I'm happy that we're at the table and helping out."