Richmond ‘Community Fridge’ to be removed per City’s request

RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Richmond Community Fridge Project started as a way to give back to those in the community who were food insecure, but it seems the project has come to a stop.

(RELATED STORY: https://www.wtvq.com/2021/03/10/community-fridge-project-in-richmond-gets-new-fridge-after-1st-one-was-stolen/)

Organizer David Wilson says push back from the Madison County Health Department has resulted in the fridge having to be removed.

“We asked why and then the reasons just continued to change the more we asked why,” said Wilson.

Wilson says they were told they didn’t qualify for permits to operate a food service.

He says they were told the main concerns were for potential food tampering, safe temperature conditions, and the location being on a city sidewalk, next to trash cans which could cause potential pest or rodent issues.

He says the regulations and codes being told to them were for retail food establishments, and since they aren’t selling anything, he says those regulations don’t apply.

“So we started having a lawyer, a public health lawyer, look into what we did need to do and what regulations applied to us and turns out there were none,” said Wilson.

He says he and his partners provided a detailed proposal that states the fridge would be monitored around the clock for cleanliness and temperature control by volunteers and the Craft restaurant, which it would be powered by.

But to their dismay nothing changed. The group received a call from the City Manager saying if it was not removed by April 22, they would start getting fined.

“It really seems like something very easy we could have done that’s turned out way more complicated than necessary,” added Wilson.

ABC 36 reached out to the Madison County Health Department for comment but have yet to hear back.

Richmond City Manager Rob Minerich provided the following statement.

“After working closely with the Madison County Health Department, our City Attorney and Director of Codes Enforcement, it became evident that due to food health and safety concerns the community refrigerator is not a viable option for our community.”

And although this project is halted for now, Wilson says he and others plan to turn the location into a blessing box of sorts, where non-perishable items can be dropped off and picked up by those in need.

“Until we can find a place where we can give away perishables, we’re going to continue to help how we can.”

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