Community fridge project gets pushback from City of Conway

Community fridge project gets pushback from City of Conway

CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - The City of Conway has some child safety concerns for The Conway Free Fridge project.

The main worry for officials is the thought of a child being able to climb in the fridge and suffocate.

So the group got a new, smaller fridge, and now has something to consider as they work to expand this project.

“We’ll do whatever we need to do to make this project work,” said Laura Edge.

Edge is one of a few volunteers who organized the Conway Free Fridge in front of Conway Cooling.

The fridge stays open 24/7 so people can “take what they need and leave what they can.”

The owner of Conway Cooling says he has seen several people take food from the fridge and pantry every day.

“He said that a young couple came with small children, and they were just so grateful there was something here so they could get what they need for their family,” said Edge.

The City of Conway appreciates the sentiment behind the project, but there are some issues.

“The primary concern is that there have been a number of child safety-related deaths from appliances that are airtight,” said City of Conway Administrator Adam Emrick. “So much so that virtually every state in the country has regulations that govern it.”

A city official went to Conway Cooling with a copy of an ordinance that says it’s unlawful to leave appliances that are airtight or have latches outside without removing the door first.

The group doesn’t think that should apply because the fridge isn’t abandoned.

“Refrigerators today, they use a magnetic type latch and there aren’t any handles where they couldn’t push their way out as easily as pulling the door open,” said Edge.

Conway Cooling moved the full-sized fridge inside and replaced it with a mini-fridge a child couldn’t fit into.

Emrick says that should solve the child safety issue, but he still thinks the project needs to go before the community appearance board for approval.

“We have to make sure we aren’t creating harm while we try to solve another,” said Emrick.

“It really wasn’t anything we thought we’d have to consider,” said Edge. “We really want the project to work, so we’ll do whatever we can to make sure it looks forward.”

The group is hoping to expand to other locations in Conway, like The Rock Church.

They’re now looking into fridges with sliding glass doors that aren’t airtight so they don’t have this issue moving forward.

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