What’s In The Freedge? Free Community Refrigerator Opens

Congregational Community Action Project (CCAP) Executive Director Andrea Cosans and benefactor John Copenhaver attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Friendly Neighborhood Freedge in Winchester, Va., on June 14, 2022. (Josh Janney/The Winchester Star via AP)
Congregational Community Action Project (CCAP) Executive Director Andrea Cosans and benefactor John Copenhaver attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Friendly Neighborhood Freedge in Winchester, Va., on June 14, 2022. (Josh Janney/The Winchester Star via AP)
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WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) — The Congregational Community Action Project (CCAP) and several other local organizations are celebrating the opening of “The Friendly Neighborhood Freedge.”

The freedge — a combination of the words “free” and “fridge” — is an outdoor refrigerator filled with donated food that is located on the Our Health campus. The freedge is open 24 hours a day, and those who are struggling financially can take whatever they need to feed themselves and their families.

CCAP Executive Director Andrea Cosans said she read an Associated Press article about a freedge in another community and thought to herself, “Cool idea. No way CCAP can do it. Two or three weeks later, a gentleman benefactor came and said, ‘I’ll give you $10,000 to do this.’”

The contribution came from Winchester resident John Copenhaver and his wife Marsha through the John D. Copenhaver and Marsha A. Childs Justice Fund, which was established through the Community Foundation of the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

“Food is a justice issue,” Copenhaver said. “From our perspective, nobody should be food insecure.”

He said he liked the idea of a freedge in Winchester and was “excited” about what it could do for the community.

So Copenhaver introduced Cosans to Pastor David Young from Bethel Lutheran Church in Frederick County, and they formed a steering committee to get the project off the ground. Several local organizations expressed support for promoting and assisting with the freedge, and Our Health allowed the freedge to be placed on its campus.

Cosans said freedges are placed in “food deserts” where food insecurity exists to provide nutritional foods such as fresh produce.

Although Copenhaver provided funds to get the project rolling, the freedge needs the community’s support to be sustainable.

Cosans said she hopes the community will “take ownership” of the freedge. If people or restaurants want to donate food or volunteer to clean the freedge, they should contact CCAP. Items needed for the freedge include produce, shelf stable items and frozen soups.

CCAP is a Winchester-based nonprofit charitable organization that provides financial assistance, food and clothing to area residents in need.

Other organizations involved with the freedge project include Just Serve, Valley Health, Community Foundation of NSV, the Shenandoah Valley Interfaith Council, the Downtown Council of Churches, Bethel Lutheran Church, the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley and Encore Elite Partners.