VIDEO: More than just free food, Long Beach community fridge aims to uplift their own

To the owners of Play Nice LBC, setting up a community fridge in front of their storefront was a no-brainer.

“We actually participate and engage with the people in this community beyond just as a customer base,” co-owner and Long Beach native Senay Kenfe said. “We’re in the midst of a pandemic and there seems to be no regard for the issues of others.”

So, they seized an opportunity.

After finding out about the L.A. Community Fridges initiative, a growing mutual aid network providing refrigerators to businesses and individuals willing to provide the power source, Play Nice LBC co-owner Ryan Hoyle immediately reached out. Just a few days later, they had a running fridge, which they painted and stuffed full with community-donated fresh produce.

The fridge is open 24/7 to anyone.

Since the fridge’s first appearance in front of Play Nice LBC five days ago, Kenfe said the fridge is always empty when he arrives to work every day—a welcome sight since the store has received an overwhelming amount of donations from locals and beyond.

In keeping with sanitation, Kenfe says that when he or any of Play Nice’s owners are on-site, they wipe down the fridge every 45 minutes and offer to bag the items for people.

For the last two years Play Nice has utilized their space as a community hub, hosting workshops and lectures including a recent partnership with the Long Beach Black Lives Matter branch they coordinated at Jordan High School last month.

All three of Play Nice’s owners, Kenfe, Hoyle and Ron Jenkins are involved with civic engagement. Hoyle, a Cal State Long Beach graduate who earned a master’s degree in social work from Loyola Marymount University last year, works extensively with troubled youth, while Kenfe focuses much of his energy volunteering with neighborhood council and voter registration.

The fridge, they say, is just another way for them to carry on helping their communities.

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Cheantay Jensen is an editorial intern who covers art and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post.
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