Far too many New Yorkers struggle with food insecurity with rates in NYC that increased by 36% overall and 46% among children during the pandemic.
Local communities stepped up to help by creating an innovative network of volunteer-maintained refrigerators offering free, fresh, nutritious food. The fridges allow all neighbors to take what they want without judgment and leave what they can. Community fridges won’t solve systemic food insecurity on their own, but they offer no-strings-attached access to fresh food, spotlight the serious issue of food insecurity and offer an innovative solution to reduce unnecessary food waste.
In times of crisis, New Yorkers have each other’s backs. Alongside Desus & Mero—the Bronx’s very own—a unique partnership took action intended to:
» Bring food to those in need
» Drive attention to this ongoing crisis
Nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers, including one in five children, don’t know where their next meal will come from. With this sobering statistic in mind, SHOWTIME partnered with City Harvest and NY Forever to launch Comida Gratis with the SHOWTIME late-night talk show DESUS & MERO to help feed New Yorkers across the city and to combat food insecurity and to reduce unnecessary food waste.
The goal of Comida Gratis was to raise awareness of this ongoing crisis that became more dire during the covid-19 pandemic and engage Desus & Mero’s vast and diverse fanbase along with their multiple platforms for a cause that could not be ignored. The ambitious campaign sought to serve several purposes: first and foremost, to deliver fresh food to all 80 fridges located throughout the 5 boroughs, something never attempted before. Comida Gratis also strived to shine a spotlight on the hardworking neighbors supporting the individual fridges, day in and day out.
Community fridges are generously managed by individuals, small businesses, non-profits and others. Organizing an effort to collectively stock these vital resources was no small task. The challenges in identifying those on the ground leading the charge in order to work alongside them was a labor of love. Our team embarked on extensive research, scouring social media to identify those managing fridges in their neighborhoods.
City Harvest gathered and delivered the food to the fridges. They have been on the frontlines combatting food insecurity every day since 1982, rescuing and delivering more than 1 billion pounds of food, free of charge, to New Yorkers in need -- including more than 200 million pounds since the start of the pandemic.
SHOWTIME and NY Forever, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a stronger future for all New Yorkers, teamed up to amplify awareness.
Launched to commemorate World Food Day on October 16, 2021, Comida Gratis was a first-of-its-kind, consolidated effort to fill all the community fridges across the five boroughs and to deliver the message that access to fresh, healthy food is not just for a privileged few—it’s a right of all New Yorkers.
The Comida Gratis campaign:
» Raised awareness
» Spurred action
» Inspired the community
In addition, the campaign:
» Provided over 14,000 lbs. of food over 5-day (~189lbs of food per fridge)
» Recruited 93 volunteers
» Was shared with Desus & Mero’s 2 million combined fans across Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and the countless viewers who tune into their SHOWTIME show to further amplify the message
» This community grassroots activation gained awareness from the local press, enthusiasm from DESUS & MERO fans, and demonstrated New York at its best—neighbors helping neighbors.