By Sriya Reddy
Pan African Connection, an Oak Cliff bookstore and art gallery, received multiple donations of food, a new commercial fridge, and a freezer after its original “Peoples Fridge” was stolen last week.
The Peoples Fridge outdoor community pantry began in 2020 and continues to serve the community around Pan African Connection by providing free food, including bread, vegetables and canned goods to those in need. Owner, Akwete Tyehimba said she’s received multiple calls from people offering fridges or donating food, which she said felt really amazing.
“The negative thing that happened turned into a more positive thing,” Tyehimba said. “We now have more food, more people who are offering help, and we’re even raising the bar as far as the quality of food that we can offer.”
After the original fridge was stolen, multiple individuals and organizations pitched in for the community pantry. Roots Food Group, a for-profit healthy food organization, donated a freezer and about 280 frozen meals including French toast, chicken tikka masala and zucchini noodles.
“It was brought to my attention that she’s been doing this outside of her store just with the kindness of her heart,” said Laura Kovacevich, executive director of Roots. “If something crosses my path, and I can help — then help. It’s just that simple.”
As these organizations came together, Pan African Connection and Roots Food Group began to partner with others to create a 1-acre community garden in Lancaster by the end of this year. Kovacevich said that they will begin planting in the coming weeks and will use that produce to replenish the community pantry.
Tyehimba said that she’s really proud of the fact that their “Peoples Fridge” is really sustained mostly by the people and her community. And she really saw that after the robbery.
“It just tells me how good people are at heart and they really want to help,” she said. “They don’t only just want to help me, but they really see the need to help people in poverty.”