Community re-free-gerator helps, gives back

Faith Deliverance church. Photo courtesy Tonya Williams

Tallahassee resident Tonya Williams has partnered up with Faith Deliverance Pentecostal Anointed House of Prayer to open a community refrigerator for Tallahassee residents.

Located at 1139 Kissimmee St. in Tallahassee, the refrigerator is open 24 hours, seven days a week and is restocked every morning. There are no restrictions on who can receive food and how much they can take, but their motto is “Take what you need, leave what you don’t!”

To keep the refrigerator open, Williams is relying on donations and help from the community. She also took a second part-time job as an Uber driver to keep groceries in the refrigerator.

Williams’ idea for the refrigerator was inspired by a community refrigerator that she had seen one of her Twitter followers start.

“I know what it’s like to have little to no food,” Williams said. “I wanted to give back to the community, to help those who were like me.”

Faith Deliverance Pentecostal Anointed House of Prayer, a church led by Pastor Carolyn Albert, partnered with farm-share and has a food pantry for the community every Monday and Tuesday.

One day, Williams stepped out on faith and asked if she can partner up with the church to use their location for the refrigerator.  Albert gave Williams her blessing, allowing Williams to use the building to store the food.

“God gave her the vision to help people in need, every day of the week, she generated the idea all she needed was a location,” Albert said.

The pastor also helps with the refrigerator by donating some of the food and goods that she receives from farm shares. The church also receives donations from Publix, Target and members of the community.

“Our vision is to feed the hungry, release some pressure from the financial burden caused by the pandemic, for the community to know they can have a meal without paying,” Albert said.

The Pantry alone feeds about 75 to 100 people per week, which makes the location for the refrigerator perfect, since the nearby traffic is already heavy. The refrigerator feeds the elderly, children, single parents, veterans and homeless people.

Donna Harris, Williams’ grandmother, helps to keep the refrigerator stocked. She comes mid-day and restocks the refrigerator with food she purchased or food received from different community drives.

“Farm shares don’t really give the same variety of fresh foods and meats,” Harris said. “We also provide after school snacks for the children. It’s helpful to know on a bad day that you have somewhere to go and receive some free groceries for your home.”

Harris is also who Williams turns to for support and encouragement to keep providing for the community.

“Tonya is a great parent, and she wants to give back to the community. She hopes that if her children were in need one day there would be a place like this for them to go,” Harris said.

The refrigerator runs on an honest system, which Harris hopes the community sees as a good thing and doesn’t take advantage of it.

The goal for the refrigerator is to bless a family, one meal at a time. Williams hopes to expand the refrigerator to a pantry one day.

For donations or questions about the refrigerator, visit their Instagram at @tallahassee_refreegerator.