City of Des Moines Threatens to Fine Community Fridge Operators Due to Code Violations

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DES MOINES, Iowa — A community refrigerator meant to provide fresh food to a Des Moines neighborhood may need to be unplugged.

City inspectors sent a violation notice to the group behind the North Des Moines Community Fridge this week. The notice, which the group posted to its Facebook page, claims the group has thirty days to shut down the fridge or face fines.

The fridge is located in a shed on the front lawn of a home on 59th Street, just across Douglas Avenue from the Merle Hay Mall.

City officials told WHO 13 the issue is with the fridge’s location on a front lawn. They say it is unlikely the fridge’s electrical setup complies with city guidelines, but they are willing to work with the property owners on a compromise.

The group responsible, Des Moines Mutual Aid, sent a statement to WHO 13 regarding the city’s action. The statement demanded the city change its code to legalize the fridge, and stated, “The fridge stays. We will defend it.”

Defenders of the fridge have shown their support through a petition started by community member Brittany Hogue. The petition was signed hundreds of times in its first day online.

“Just having these places where anybody can go is really important,” Hogue said. “There is a huge issue with food insecurity, not just in our state and in our country, but in our own communities.”

Hogue plans to present the petition to Des Moines City Council next week.

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