San Fernando Valley welcomes its first community refrigerator in North Hills

Michaella Huck, Culture Editor

Community refrigerators have popped up all over Los Angeles since July, and now one has found a home in the San Fernando Valley.

Community refrigerators are donation-based refrigerators that are stocked to help those facing food insecurity in the community.

The group that brought this idea to Southern California in July, L.A. Community Fridges, currently has 16 active fridges throughout L.A.; however, none were stationed in the San Fernando Valley until this month.

CSUN alumnus Jeff Holmes and his partner, Monica Lloyd, set out to provide the unhoused and those in need with access to food and supplies, including masks and hand sanitizer. The two founded San Fernando Valley Community Fridges at the start of August.

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority, the San Fernando Valley is home to approximately 9,000 unhoused individuals.

“There are several homeless communities in this area and we thought ‘Hey, can we bring this to our community?’ It came together so quickly, but we had to find a location to host the fridge,” Holmes explained.

To keep a community fridge running, each one needs a sponsor to plug in the fridge and cover the electricity costs.

Holmes and Lloyd connected with the owner of a local market, Toyin’s Fashion and African Market, in North Hills.

Toyin’s Fashion and African Market hosts San Fernando Valley’s first community fridge. The store is located at 9005-1 Sepulveda Blvd, North Hills, Calif. (Michaella Huck)

The shop owner, who wanted to be known as Toyin, said most of the people who shop at her store are single parents and providing access to food in front of her shop could help her regular customers as well.

“It helps the community, it allows people to have food with dignity,” Toyin said. “They are able to come and have a safe place to open the refrigerator and take what they need without feeling isolated.”

Holmes expressed his appreciation for various community members who came together once the location was set and the refrigerator was purchased. He said they have an overwhelming number of supplies.

The community fridge is located on the corner of Nordhoff Street and Sepulveda Boulevard, next to a large encampment on Parthenia Street.

Lloyd said the group is still accepting volunteers and donations. They are also looking for business owners who are willing to host refrigerators in the Valley.

“We heard directly from our participants’ mouth that this is something they need, this is being used as a resource and is making a difference,” Lloyd said.