Free Food Fridge Serves Community Need 

Millions of Butterflies began in 2020 when Rivera-Todaro would sell baked goods and donate the proceeds to Black Lives Matter organizations. This inspired them to begin their own non-profit organization to help the community. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Sodergren.

Millions of Butterflies, a local nonprofit organization, recently announced the opening of a highly anticipated Free Food Fridge on Plattekill Ave right here in New Paltz.

“Food is a basic human right,” their website reads. The purpose of the fridge is to help diminish food insecurities. The shed structure opens up to a fridge on one side, as well as some shelves for dry non-perishable items. It even has a microwave on one of the shelves. 

Mariabella Rivera-Todaro, founder and CEO of Millions of Butterflies got the idea from other fridges in Kingston, NY. The idea is that people can take food as they need, but also donate items back into the fridge. 

Accessibility is a big part of Millions of Butterflies which is why the fridge is open 12 hours a day Monday through Sunday. Millions of Butterflies encourages people to bring ready-to-eat meals, baked goods, fruits, veggies and nonalcoholic drinks. They even ask for hygiene items such as toothpaste, soap and other toiletries.

So far, the fridge is getting a great response. 

“People are getting food and giving food every day that I come and visit,” Rivera-Todaro told Spectrum News. 

They also say that the older generations of New Paltz are a huge help to the fridge as well and donate a lot of home cooked meals. 

Millions of Butterflies started in July of 2020 with the goal to serve the community. They hope to relive some of the stressors of everyday life by working together like a determined group of butterflies.

For a relatively new organization, Millions of Butterflies has accomplished quite a lot. Aside from donations, the butterflies get all their funding from a bake sale that they host on Main Street. They sell fresh baked goods and even sometimes write poems for shoppers. The bake sale funds are also donated to mutual causes all over the world. 

Along with the bake sale, they create Back 2 School Care Packages for students which launched in the winter of 2020. The packages were sent to students grades elementary to high school, who were in need of school supplies. The packages included notebooks, a ruler, winter gloves and writing utensils.

The organization also has some plans for the future. Similar to New Paltz Food Not Bombs, the Chrysalis Kitchen will be distributing free meals from the Huguenot St. Farm kitchen “to make sure that people who need help are helped and not just turned away,” says Rivera-Todaro.

Located next to the Free Food Fridge is the Pollinator Garden. They plan on growing the current location but also expanding to other locations around New Paltz. The purpose of expanding the garden is to grow edible plants and herbs for community members and so people can learn more about indigenous plants and the pollinators that are dependent on them. The Butterfly Times zine is another thing they hope to produce. The issues will promote the abundance of local artists we have here in New Paltz and spread information about the Butterflies’ local resources and other important projects around town.

Millions of Butterflies’ work wouldn’t be possible without our support. You can follow them on Instagram @millionsofbutterflies and you can sign up to volunteer for different projects on their website www.millionsofbutterflies.org. You can also sign up to volunteer specifically for the fridge on their LinkTree linktr.ee/millionsofbutterflies. Millions of Butterflies is also currently looking for board members; you can contact them at millionsofbutterflies.inc@gmail.com. 

Some other ways you can help is to simply donate. You can donate monetarily on the website or by helping to stock food in the fridge.

About Remy Commisso 22 Articles
Remy is a first-year journalism major from Rochester NY. When she’s not in the Oracle office, she’s listening to new music and having movie nights with friends. This is her second semester as a copy editor. You can reach her by emailing commissr2@newpaltz.edu.