Parry & Penny’s Community Fridge, a fridge/pantry located outside the Family News Stand in the LaSalle Plaza in Kingston, is stocked daily with grocery items – and those in the community are welcome to take anything they need.
The community fridge started when Saeid Tahamtan saw a television program on community fridges in another region and realized how such a simple idea could help the community in need.
“After we did some research on the idea,” said Merola Tahamtan, Saeid’s wife and co-patron of the Community Fridge, “we learned many communities had this idea of a community fridge. It seems this idea was started in Europe. We felt this was an ideal time to set up our own community fridge with the ongoing pandemic, job losses, and the increased cost of living,”
Saeid immigrated to Canada in 1989 from Iran, and said his family was welcomed into the Kingston community, and many were there to help the family settle in a new home. He still remembers that kindness with gratitude. Merola works at Limestone School Board as an Educational Assistant and sees how many families struggle to provide adequate food for their children, she shared.
“No family should struggle to feed their family,” Saeid added.
The fridge was named Parry & Penny’s Community Fridge to honour the two matriarchs in the Tahamtans’ families: Parry is Saeid’s mother and Penny is Merola’s mother. Their mothers’ kindness, compassion, and willingness to help others, such as neighbours and the community in general, have always been a positive influence on everyone in the family and community, the couple shared of the inspiration behind the name.
The couple runs the Community Fridge by stocking the fridge and pantry themselves and welcoming support from the community. The motto of the community fridge is ‘Take what you need, give what you can.’ Anyone who is struggling is welcome to stop by the fridge/pantry and take what they need. And many community members have stopped by to drop off donations or asked how they can help.
Those who want to help ensure that the needs of the community are met can drop off donations to the Family News Stand at 506 Days Road. Staff there will inspect and sort donations to be placed in the fridge/pantry as per KFL&A Public Health regulations. Saeid also said that he can pick up items from donors’ homes upon request.
At this time, the community fridge is accepting fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, as well as any pre-packed products in original containers/packages such as canned vegetables, tuna, peanut butter, jam, pasta, pasta sauce, rice, pudding/jello, bread, granola bars/protein bars, individually wrapped snacks, frozen juice, cereal, and personal hygiene products.
“We are so thankful for the community we live in,” said Saeid. “We believe in the community helping the community. We have been in contact with schools who reached out to us wanting to run donation drives, as well as local businesses who want to contribute.”
Updates from Parry &Penny’s Community Fridge can be found on their Instagram and Facebook accounts, or they can be reached via email at [email protected]. The Parry & Penny’s Community Fridge is located within the LaSalle Plaza at 506 Days Road in Kingston’s west end.