It’s a simple, easily accessible solution to hunger: set up fridges in underserved communities and stock them with nutritious dishes so those in need can pick up a ready-to-eat meal, produce or dairy products. No application, no paperwork, no questions.

Free Food Fridge Albany was launched by Jammella Anderson, a local activist whose initiative landed her on the cover of Time magazine. It was born out of the immediate need that COVID presented, but the ever-present issue of food insecurity in the community prompted Anderson to extend this crisis response into a permanent effort.

Siena has stepped up to help.

Effective January 1, a state law went into effect requiring qualifying organizations to compost or upcycle food scraps and donate eligible food for consumption.  Siena has already been upcycling for three years as part of its sustainability initiatives and Franciscan mission to care for the environment, and has now signed on to donate leftover food as well.

According to Rachel Miller, senior director of dining services at Siena, the College technically does not even qualify for the requirement to donate leftovers. The new law applies only to dining halls, restaurants and food service operations that create a weekly average of more than two tons of leftovers. 

“We are Siena, so we are going to do it anyway!” said Miller.

Siena is now freezing both family style and single serve dishes from Lonnstrom Dining Hall. FFF comes to campus twice a week to pick up and distribute meals such as stuffed peppers, chicken parm and beef stew to their fridges all over Albany.  Bonner students and First-Year Seminar students are helping out with the effort. 

Siena is upping its community support game even further: the College will soon sponsor a Siena-themed fridge in Albany, and Coach Carmen Maciariello '01 and the men’s basketball team will also sponsor a fridge near their home court at the MVP Arena. The fridges will be decorated with green and gold Saints stickers.

“This is something that really aligns with our mission and values,” said Miller. 

There will be yet one more Siena fridge to help those in need: the Student Senate recently approved a plan to situate a FFF right on campus. Details are being confirmed on the exact location.

“Many people might think there is no food insecurity in Loudonville or on our own campus, but it absolutely exists. This is a powerful move for the Senate to help other students realize that their student government can do mighty things not only for the campus community, but off campus as well.”

Rachel Miller, senior director of dining services

“I am ecstatic to work with Siena and AVI Foodsystems on this project. Teaming up with the College fits right into our mission of elevating the community and I couldn’t think of a better partnership!”

Jammella Anderson, FFF founder

“We knew instantly knew that we wanted to contribute to this cause. The impact of this fridge will allow food insecure students and employees to have easy access to meals without stigma, and it will leave a lasting effect on the campus after we graduate.”

Michael Simeone ’23, Siena senate president