BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Food pantries have played a vital role during the pandemic making sure people have access to basic needs, but now there’s a new initiative looking to provide the necessities to people here in Baltimore.

It’s been gaining traction in cities like New York and Los Angeles, so two college students decided to bring it to Baltimore. You can take what you need, leave what you can and help out your neighbors.

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“It’s a mutual aid effort. I guess you could also say it’s like a self service food pantry,” said Clara Leverenz, co-founder of Baltimore Community Fridge.

The Baltimore Community Fridge serving the city’s Greenmount West neighborhood.

It’s called the Baltimore Community Fridge. Stocked by those a little extra to share, it has fresh produce, grocery items and even toiletries. Unlike a traditional food pantry it’s accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“We’re trying to think of ways to community uplift that’s outside that model, weather that’s mutual aid or just helping out your neighbors,” Leverenz said.

It’s a concept that was brought to Baltimore by college students, Clara Levrenz, Abbey Franklin after they saw them starting to pop-up in places like Los Angeles and New York City.

“I just thought that this community has the power to bring it to life and keep it going,” said co-founder Abbey Franklin.

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But before that could bring it to life, they had to find a location.

“Obviously it’s a really hard sell to say we want something outside your building that’s open 24/7 whoever wants to come can come,” Leverenz said.

Luckily, they found a spot next to Hidden Harvest Farms in the Greenmount West neighborhood. Now, a team of volunteers keep cleaned, stocked and running.

“The response has been, as Clara likes to say, overwhelming, in a good way. People are so excited about it,” Franklin said.

As it provides a way to give back or get help in a small, inconspicuous way.

Now this fridge is in the Greenmount West neighborhood, but it is gaining popularity with people hoping to open them across the City.

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You can check them out here.

Sean Streicher