A group of University of Kansas students created Lawrence Freedgin’ Kansas, or LFK Eats, a mutual aid project seeking to help food insecure people in Lawrence by setting up community fridges. The group got the idea from a similar project in Wichita, ICT Free Food, and plans to establish a total of three fridges in Lawrence.
LFK Eats is meant to be a mutual-aid project, with the aim of, “building community solidarity and fighting food insecurity throughout the Lawrence community,” according to the group’s Instagram account.
“The fridge will be filled with healthy foods for the community and by the community,” said Sayan Grover, an organizer of LFK Eats and student at KU. “Basically, it’s take what you need and give what you can, which is what our slogan is.”
Their first fridge will be located at Latchkey Deli, a new restaurant on Massachusetts Street. This fridge will be available to the public beginning March 14.
“We reached out to Latchkey before they opened and they were really interested,” LFK Eats member Mazzy Martinez said. “One of their missions is community work and the owners are really passionate about food waste and food insecurity, so they’re really good people to work with.”
LFK Eats was created by a coalition of KU’s Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee, the Jayhawker Liberation Front, Black Student Coalition, independent students on campus, and Lawrence residents.
“It wasn’t necessarily one person’s idea, but I will say, I think one of the biggest reasons it was on peoples’ minds was because it was inspired by the ICT Community Fridge in Wichita and the success of their fridge, which was started by an activist in Wichita named Tajahnaé Stocker,” Grover said. “Based off the success of that, that’s what really got this fridge going here in Lawrence, Kansas.”
KU sophomore, Chair of the Senate DEI Committee and LFK Eats member Ximena Ibarra said she’s always wanted to get involved with the Lawrence community, and help the homeless and food-insecure population.
“Mutual aid is about building networks of solidarity, especially when there’s an emergency, whether it’s a pandemic or a natural disaster,” Ibarra said.
Martinez said mutual aid is a two-way effort, as people can take what they need and contribute what they can.
“Charity is one-sided, it is a higher entity giving to the less fortunate,” Martinez said. “With mutual aid, it’s more of a level playing field. Some of the people working in mutual aid will also have to go to a food pantry once in a while by themselves.”
The group launched the project in mid-February, and received an overwhelming response from the community, Grover said.
“We’ve raised $1,132 from the community,” Grover said. “We’re really grateful to the community for showing out in terms of donations, but we’ve also gotten lots of people reaching out wanting to help out in some form or another and wanting to bring food donations.”
The group hopes to have two additional fridges in the community soon, Grover said.
“We want to get a fridge on KU’s campus and get one in east Lawrence, which has historically been redlined and underserved,” Grover said. “We actually have three fridges on hand already so those should all be up pretty soon.”
Grover wants to emphasize that the mutual aid slogan, ‘Solidarity, not charity,’ applies to this mutual aid project.
“There’s no policing on who can come and take how much food, it’s all just take whatever you need. If you can give something back, that’s okay, and if you can’t, that’s also completely okay,” Grover said.
Those wanting to help can donate to $LFKEats on CashApp or LFKEats on Venmo, or direct message Lawrencefreedginkansas on Instagram for volunteer opportunities. Once the host sites are open, non-perishable, sealed and healthy foods will be accepted. For more information, Lawrence Freedgin Kansas can be found at LFKEats on Twitter, Lawrencefreedginkansas on Instagram and on its Facebook page.