Des Moines Community Fridges

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Des Moines Community Fridges

I grew up watching Mister Rogers as a child and have introduced the cartoon-adapted version, Daniel Tiger, to my own children. Mister Rogers called everyone his neighbor meaning someone who “looks for ways to help others” and cares for others in their community. This philosophy is the driving force of community fridges, a movement that helps neighbors in need due to food insecurity (not having enough food as well as not having desirable and quality food). 

Looking for other ways to volunteer and help the Des Moines community? Here is a giant list of ways to volunteer with kids.

Discover more about community fridges in the Des Moines area, how to utilize them, and learn how to contribute to help feed others.

What is a community fridge?

Community refrigerators are fridges kept where the public can easily access them such as in a public building like a library, an apartment building, and outside of businesses to supply people with free food. It is stocked by community volunteers and donations from individuals and businesses. Many community fridges also have a space for dry goods.

Des Moines has an amazing organization called Eat Greater Des Moines that helps provide community fridges and gathers food that would otherwise go to waste to distribute to community members. They work with over 200 partner organizations to connect people with food. This organization builds on the support from food pantries and food banks by continuing to help people access food. Check out their website to learn more.

Who can use the community fridge?

Anyone can use the community fridge. No ID or proof of income is required and people can use the fridge anytime it’s open. Many can be accessed 24/7 and some have set hours, for example, those in public buildings may be open during building hours.

How great is the need for donations?

Often people are lined up waiting for donations to arrive. The Des Moines Refugee Support Facebook page, which helps refugee families in Iowa, sometimes posts about the need for food donations to community fridges. In just the last week of April 2023, they posted about three different fridges with people waiting for food to be dropped off. Many fridges are restocked multiple times per day but the need continues to grow. Other community fridge pages discuss that often people don’t qualify for SNAP due to their income level, but they are still food insecure.

According to a 2022 article by the Des Moines Register, 1 in 7 families in Iowa with working households are unable to cover their basic needs.

Where are the community fridges in Polk County?


DMACC Ankeny Campus

2006 S Ankeny Blvd, Building 6

Ankeny, IA

Open: Building hours


Altoona Public Library

700 8th Street SW, Altoona, IA

Open: Library hours

Des Moines:

1. Budget Inn and Suites

5220 NE 14th St, Des Moines, IA

Hours: Open 24/7

2. Caremore Health & Aspire

1530 E Euclid Avenue, Des Moines, IA

Open: Building hours

3. Commonbond Communities

1440 E. Grand Avenue Building 1440, Des Moines, IA

Open: Community room hours

Commonbond Communities is a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing to communities. Their fridge is located in Building 1440.

4. Community Youth Concepts (CYC) Community Fridge

Location: 1446 Martin Luther King Jr Parkway, Des Moines, IA 50314

The fridge is located in a white shed behind the building

(515) 243-4292

Hours: Open 24/7

Facebook page: CYC Community Fridge Facebook

Community Youth Concepts is an organization that helps Iowa students through youth development programming as well as coaching/training for other non-profit organizations that serve youth. They provide a Community Fridge located in a white shed behind the building as well as a Little Free Pantry located at the front of the building. 

Check the CYC website for their pantry and snack wish list to donate. Popular items for the Little Free Pantry include beans, canned fruits/vegetables, jam/jelly, cereal, canned soup, peanut butter, and macaroni and cheese. Their Facebook page is often updated to show a picture of donations in the fridge so the community can see what is available. 

5. Deer Ridge Apartments

6009 Creston Avenue, Des Moines, IA

Open: Community room hours

6. Franklin Community Fridge

Location: Inside Franklin Avenue Library

5000 Franklin Avenue, Des Moines, IA

Open: Monday-Saturday during library hours

The Franklin Community Fridge is located instead of the Franklin Community Library inside of the east entrance. Preferred items for donation include fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains, and dairy products. Visit the service desk to provide donations.  

7. Harrington Apartments

677 16th Street, Des Moines, IA

Open: Community room hours

8. Hilltop Apartments

3722 Hubbell Avenue, Des Moines, IA

Open: Community room hours

9. North Des Moines Community Fridge

Locations: 5720 Urbandale Ave, Des Moines, IA 50310 AND

2300 Hickman Rd., Des Moines, IA 50310.

Hours: Open 24/7

Facebook page: North Des Moines Community Fridge | Facebook

Quick grab-and-go meals are popular including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, slim jims, Lunchables, milk, juice, and extra-cooked food (write the date the food was made and the ingredients). In the summer, bottled water and other cooling items like popsicles are especially needed.

The North Des Moines Community Fridge page also shares breakfast items needed through North Des Moines Mutual Aid which provides a free community breakfast at Edna Griffin Park located at 13th and College in Des Moines and is held every other Saturday from 8-11:00 AM. Check out the North Des Moines Mutual Aid Facebook Page to attend a breakfast or donate food items.

If you are unable to donate food to the fridge or community breakfast, you can also contribute through monetary donations:

CashApp: $NorthDSMMutualAid

Venmo: @NorthDesMoinesMutualAid


10. Oakview Terrace Apartments

2901 Boston Avenue, Des Moines, IA

Open: Community room hours

11. Rosemont Apartments

2022 E. Rose Avenue, Des Moines, IA

Open: Community room hours

12. South Side Library Community Fridge

Location: Inside the South Side Library

1111 SW Porter Avenue, Des Moines, IA

Hours: Monday through Saturday during the library’s open hours

The South Side Library Community Fridge accepts standard pantry items such as rice, dry beans, canned goods, oatmeal, and grains. They also take freezer items including frozen fruits/vegetables and frozen meals. 

13. Sutton Hill Apartments

2100 SE King Avenue, Des Moines, IA

Open: Community room hours

This fridge is located in the Sutton Hill clubhouse and stocked by Eat Greater Des Moines every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. They also have a community pantry accepting nonperishable goods

14. Sweet Tooth Community Fridge

1618 6th Avenue, Des Moines IA

Facebook page: Sweet Tooth Community Fridge Facebook

Monika Owczarski is the owner of an urban garden called Sweet Tooth Farm and grows chemical-free produce for neighbors in the community. Check out her Facebook page for farming and harvesting volunteer opportunities. Increased help will be needed in the summer to harvest. The farm supplies fresh produce for the Sweet Tooth Community Fridge. 

This community fridge is located in the back right of the parking lot of Home, Inc! View their Facebook page for updates for donations as well as desired food items. Examples include milk, meat, prepared meals, and snacks for kids like applesauce and juice and produce.

Donate through Venmo:

Sweet Tooth Community Fridge


West Des Moines: 

Chapel Ridge Apartments

210 S 41st St, West Des Moines, IA

Open: Community room hours

Are community fridges located in other counties?

Community fridges are also located in Dallas and Warren counties. Check out this chart from Eat Greater Des Moines for locations and hours.

How can the community support this cause?

1. Donate purchased food.

Purchase food items to donate and leave in the fridge and/or pantry. Some locations have Facebook pages or websites (see above) that list desired food items. Eat Greater Des Moines also provides a list of ideas here such as milk, yogurt, fruits, vegetables, deli meat, and eggs.

2. Donate food cooked at home or excess food from events.

Help with food waste and donate extra food catered to or made from an event that would otherwise go to waste. It must be fresh (not expired), labeled with ingredients, and labeled with the date made.

3. Donate extra fruits and vegetables from your garden.

Fresh produce and fresh food are always needed. If you grow extra that you will not consume, this can be donated to the fridge. Scroll down to the Eat Greater Des Moines FAQ to learn more.

4. Volunteer for food rescues.

Download the Eat Greater Des Moines Food Rescue App and complete a food rescue. You will be notified when a Food Donor (such as a business like a corporation or a grocery store) has extra food, collect the food and drop it off at an assigned community fridge.

5. Check out Eat Greater Des Moines Get Involved Tab to learn more.

Discover how to donate as a corporation, donate money, host a community fridge, and more.

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L is an occupational therapist turned (mostly) stay-at-home mom. She has worked with adults to young toddlers and has a special interest in early childhood development targeting fine motor skills, feeding, sensory processing, and coordination. She loves incorporating this knowledge with her own two little boys through play. When she’s not running after her little ones she enjoys traveling, cooking new recipes and eating chocolate from her secret stash.

One thought on “Des Moines Community Fridges

  1. Avatar Anita Greenfield says:

    Every Friday someone come and fills the cyc community fridge.. today a new person came. Young girl expecting and and young man. See left 12 English muffins a milk And 4 plant based burgers and a bag of grapes. I have a picture. She didn’t take one. Just windy if that was all for today. I have never seen this rashin on a Friday.

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