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Taking on hunger through COVID and beyond

D.C. area charity serves up Thanksgiving dinner and more for those in need

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Sarah Perron

Sarah Perron

Sarah Perron

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November 24, 2022

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09:09 AM

Taking on hunger through COVID and beyond

For people who struggle to put food on the table, the holidays can be an especially bleak time. But for those experiencing food insecurity in the Washington D.C. metro area, Thanksgiving this year brings much to be grateful for, thanks to the hunger-fighting charity Feed the Fridge.

Founded in 2020 by co-owner of Medium Rare restaurant Mark Bucher, Feed the Fridge began as a short-term response to COVID, and has since turned into something much bigger.

How does it work? Feed the Fridge places empty refrigerators in D.C. area recreation centers, schools and other locations. They purchase nutritious, high-quality meals from local restaurants and stock the fridges with them daily, up to 100 meals per fridge. 

Who is it for? School children, seniors, families, at-risk individuals, and anyone else experiencing food insecurity. The meals are free for the taking with no questions asked and no limits. 

Who wins? Everyone! Those struggling with hunger receive top-notch meals and participating area restaurants are paid to provide the meals, helping them keep their doors open and their employees paid. 

Feed the Fridge's website states, “Though we started as a short-term response to the pandemic, we have realized that we play a major role in solving hunger by transforming ‘food insecurity’ into ‘meal security’.”

In an interview with Fox News, Bucher commented: “Feed the Fridge is built on the premise that ingredients and the food pantry model in this country need to be fixed. It’s not working as intended. People are still hungry. We spent more money and [have] given out more food ingredients during COVID than we ever have before.”

Since 2020, Feed the Fridge has placed 29 refrigerators at different locations in the greater Washington D.C. area, and has provided more than 700,000 free meals - well on their way to their goal of delivering one million meals! They've paid area restaurants $2,000,000 for their culinary contributions, thanks to gifts from generous donors.

What's on the menu this Thanksgiving? Deep fried turkey, courtesy of Bucher's restaurant Medium Rare. At this time of year, many raw turkeys are given for free to those in need, but according to Bucher, this well-intentioned gift can be problematic: “A little unintended consequence [is] that all these food banks and charities are giving out free, raw turkeys, [but] the recipients are scared to cook them, or they don’t know how to cook them, or they don’t have pots and pans to cook turkeys.”

Bucher and his team have invited people to bring their raw turkeys to be deep fried so they can comfortably and easily enjoy their meal. Bucher commented that “hundreds if not thousands” of people have taken him up on his restaurant’s generous offer so far.

Feed the Fridge will deliver 3,000 meals to home-bound seniors on Thanksgiving. The organization will also add a first to their plate this year - they will serve Thanksgiving dinner to 300 struggling military families in the D.C. area. 

“It’s silly that in a country where these soldiers might be on the front line tomorrow, [they] have to worry about the food that their wife, kids, or their families are going to get. We’re gonna take that out of their minds this year,” said Bucher.

When asked about the reaction of the military personnel to this act of kindness, Bucher commented, “They're surprised. They're not used to people doing for them; they do for others. And this is one case where we as a restaurant community and Feed the Fridge can do well for these families who are in a hard spot.”

To learn more about Feed the Fridge and support their work, please visit https://feedthefridge.org. 100% of donations go toward providing meals for the hungry.

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