One meal from Rodney's Cafe Meal-A-Thon program in Oshkosh

Feeding Our Community – No Matter What

When I was three years old, my father passed away leaving my mother to raise me as a single parent. Although I was very young at the time, I still remember my mother struggling to support as she attended college at Fox Valley Technical College.  There were times my mother struggled to feed us and we had to visit our local food pantries. If it weren’t for the help of our community, we wouldn’t both be where we are today.

Tragedy and hardship can face anyone, and this is something that I know first hand. When I found out about the Hope Fridge and it’s mission to feed anyone, no matter what their skin tone, sexuality or religious beliefs, I knew that I wanted to feature them for Nosh’s Community Spotlight.

This past Saturday the Hope Fridge expanded to a new location at the back of good friend and supporter of blog, Wagner Market.  You can read about our posts covering their offerings here and in Alison’s latest blog here.

When I first contacted TJ Hobbs, the founder about featuring the Hope Fridge on our blog, they shared they were busy, but they did tell us we could grab paint brushes and help paint at the new location, at Wagner Market. Blogger Alison and I jumped at the opportunity. Not only did we find the inside scoop but we were able to become a part of the project in the process.

Menu from Rodney's Cafe showing the meal options in Oshkosh for the Meal-A-Thon

Hope Fridge’s Mission

Taken from the Hope Fridge Site

“Hope Fridge is a mutual aid project based out of the Fox Valley in Wisconsin. Our goal is to ensure everyone has delicious food to eat with no questions asked and no paperwork to fill out.

Volunteers like you make this project possible by building, maintaining, and stocking outdoor community fridges and pantries throughout our community, filled with fresh food and household goods all free for the taking as needs arise.

There is no limit to how many times someone can visit our fridges and there is no limit to how much someone can take home from our fridges. Hope Fridge contents are always entirely free to everyone, regardless of their circumstances, thanks entirely to our generous donors and kind volunteers.

Hope Fridge parters with restaurants, markets, and like-minded community partners to help combat hunger, food waste, and hopelessness in the Fox Valley by ensuring those in need are directly connected with available and/or excess food and supplies.

Cold Food, Warm Hearts.

Thank you for being a part of Hope Fridge!”

Who does the Hope Fridge Serve? 

The Hope Fridge is a mutual aid project which means unlike non-profits, visitors will not need to fill out paperwork, nor is it run like a business. To sum up what a mutal aid project is, it’s neighbors helping neighbors. Part of being a good neighbor? Showing your neighbor respect and taking care of one another.

TJ shared with us that they were inspired to create the Hope Fridge after the injustices of this past year against the black community. As a result of seeing the events unfold, TJ realized that there was a need in the Fox Valley to feed anyone without basis. TJ envisioned a place for anyone to be fed free from religion or other programs that may put pressure on anyone that visits which often happens with non-profits.

During our time TJ and I discussed how many members of the LGBTQ community often feel alienated by church communities which can be a barrier for someone that may be struggling with their identity, let alone hunger.


Rodney delivering Christmas gifts with a police officer in Oshkosh
Menu from Rodney's Cafe showing the meal options in Oshkosh for the Meal-A-Thon

What items can be donated to the Hope Fridge?

Hope Fridge asked that all items that are donated by sealed, unopened, prepackaged and clearly labeled. These items can also include fresh produce! 

When I spoke with TJ she expressed that anyone deserves to have access to healthy great quality food items no matter what their financial circumstances. The Fridge has even is even stocked at time with Gluten Free items, which is rare to find at other pantry locations.

Items that can be donated to the Hope Fridge include:

  • cheeses, eggs, pasteurized milk and yogurt

  • fruit juices, water and Gatorade

  • fresh fruit and vegetables

  • pastries, baked goods and bread

  • cured sandwich meats and Lunchables

  • prepared meal items made in a commercial kitchen

Pantry Items:

  • non-perishable food like cereals, granola bars, fruit snacks and popcorn

  • household supplies like toilet paper, laundry detergent and socks

  • medical supplies like Band Aids and Neosporin

  • sanitary supplies like tampons, pads, soap, and shampoo/conditioner

  • baby supplies like diapers, diapers and more diapers!

The Hope Fridge ask that you do not donate any of the following:

  • raw meat or raw fish

  • raw milk or raw milk cheeses

  • unlabeled multi-ingredient items

  • half-eaten leftovers

  • alcohol

  • home-cooked meals

    What does the future hold for Hope Fridge? What is the next step?

    TJ hopes that the mission of Hope Fridge will continue to further serve our community through future locations in the Fox Valley area. There will soon be another Oshkosh location added to the project.

    If people would like to donate to the Hope Fridge  how can they do that? 

    Visit their donation site on Open Collective to make a donation today!
    You can also visit the Amazon Wishlists for both the Neenah & Oshkosh locations to have items purchased directly for stocking the Hope Fridge at the desired location.

    Rodney grilling at a fundraiser event at Festival Foods in Oshkosh
    Wagner Market in downtown Oshkosh, Wisconsin

    Make sure to visit the Hope Fridge’s Facebook for update on their current needs for each location as well as for volunteering opppurtunities. 

    In a future post we will be sharing about Wagner Market’s descion to host the project. 

    As a blogging community we are excited to have been a part of this great project and to share in the mission of being good neighbors. Thank you to TJ for speaking with us and inviting us help paint!