by Bridget O’Donnell

What’s in your community refrigerator?

You may not be aware that the Oakwood Friends School partnered with the Poughkeepsie Public Library to install a “Community Refrigerator” on the ground floor of the Adriance Memorial Library (located at 93 Market Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601). The Poughkeepsie Journal published an article November 21, 2022 highlighting how the idea for a high-school assignment evolved and became a public service that would benefit the community.

According to the article, here’s how it works…

“Organizers of the community fridges ask for donations that are packaged, not expired and food products that are needed, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat products. Donations can be placed directly in the fridge.

To make a monetary donation, contact the Poughkeepsie Community Fridge by emailing or messaging them on Instagram @pougkeepsiecommunityfridge.

The Poughkeepsie Community Fridge is open during library hours…”

To reiterate, guidelines are posted in English and Spanish on the side of the refrigerator next to suggested contributions. For convenience, a few are listed below.

  • All ingredients and allergens must be labeled.
  • All items must be labeled with an expiration date.
  • No items past their “Best Before” date.
  • No opened or partially eaten items.
  • No medicines.
  • No alcohol or illegal substances.
  • As a general rule, please do not donate anything that you wouldn’t want to eat yourself!
  • Single-serve containers

In the same area you’ll see a cabinet that may contain non-perishable items and a white board for requests. There may also be paper or reusable bags available. The refrigerator is filled weekly but most food doesn’t last long because the service seems to be greatly appreciated by the community.

Please eat what you take from the fridge and/or cabinet outside of the library. Books and electronics don’t last long around food and drinks and we don’t want to encourage those cute little mice or pests to take up permanent residence inside of the library.

Most importantly, thank you for all of the donations! You’re amazing. Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Healthy New Year!

Title of Cookbook: Smart Meal Prep for Beginners: Recipes and Weekly Plans for Health, Ready-to-Go-Meals.

(But, The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook: One Grocery List. A Week of Meals. No Waste by America’s Test Kitchen was a close second.)

Author of Cookbook: Toby Amidor.

What prompted you to check out this cookbook? Out of curiosity I periodically look in the community refrigerator and cabinet. The level of generosity is heartening. There have been a variety of vegetables and fruits, baked pies, yogurt cups, PB&J and breaded fish sandwiches, packages of deli meat and salads, blocks of cheese, loaves of bread and rolls, ground meat, uncooked pasta and jars of tomato sauce, canned goods and toiletries. One time a large container of protein powder was donated!

Now, I have no problem admitting that I don’t know everything about food storage and preservation and plan to keep an open mind about the possibility of learning something new as the service continues to be offered. But with that in mind, the donations made me think about how to get the most out of nutrient-rich foods and the best ways to store them. Note, items found in the community refrigerator or cabinet may not be kept the same way you’d personally store them.

  • Refrigerating bread may help slow down the staling process. Freezing bread may help reduce the development of spoilage microbes (aka: mold).
  • Crisper or shelf space may be tight some weeks. Consider which produce last longer out on the counter. Avoid storing produce that emits ethylene, like apples and pears in the same crisper as ethylene-sensitive produce, like onions.
  • Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place. However, according to “raw potatoes have lots of starches, and the cold temperatures in the refrigerator can turn the starches into sugars. This can make your potatoes turn sweeter and darker during cooking.” Okay, if that’s what you’re going for I guess.
  • Although large aluminum trays of food are an extremely gracious gesture and great for potlucks, donations really should be portioned into single servings. We don’t have to-go containers or other items you might find in a public kitchen to accommodate big batches for self-serve.

What did you like about this cookbook? There are a number of books about food prep, preservation and storage that could be suggested in this blog entry. What I liked about this cookbook, in-line with the community refrigerator, was that it focuses on dividing meals into individual portions and packing them as ready-to-go meals.

If you have time, also take a look at the following supplements in The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook: One Grocery List. A Week of Meals. No Waste by America’s Test Kitchen.

  • List of substitutions, p.15
  • Make the most of your microwave, pg. 18
  • Anatomy of a fridge, pg. 23.

What didn’t you like about this cookbook/website? Although the health benefits to preparing ready-to-go meals are innumerable, the author doesn’t seem to stress the fact that it can take a lot of time to make and prep a week’s worth of food.

Favorite recipe (that you tried from the cookbook/website): My assembly line salads (shown with this post) resemble Amidor’s Superfood Salad with Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette on pg. 30 but a number of other recipes also looked appetizing.

Did you alter the recipe or make any substitutions? If so, what were they? Of course I altered the recipe. Using a container instead of a glass mason jar, I start with a bed of greens that most often consists of a mix of kale and/or spinach. Proteins might include garbanzo beans, quinoa, hard boiled eggs and/or nuts. Vegetables and fruit are contingent on seasonal availability. Onions, crumbled cheese and dressing are kept on the side until serving time.

Would you recommend this cookbook/recipe? Yes, I would recommend this cookbook. Portioned, ready-to-go home-cooked meals, not just salads, are definitely comforting during and after a busy day.


Books –

Books are listed in order of relevance to this post. Why not look into foods that aid in mental well-being instead of just providing temporary sustenance.

Smart Meal Prep for Beginners: Recipes and Weekly Plans for Health, Ready-to-Go-Meals / Toby Amidor.

The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook: One Grocery List. A Week of Meals. No Waste / America’s Test Kitchen.

The Mind Diet Plan & Cookbook: Recipes and Lifestyle Guidelines to Help Prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia / Julie Andrews.

This is Your Brain on Food: An Indispensable Guide to the Surprising Foods that Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More / Uma Naidoo, MD.

Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health: A Complete Guide to the Food-Mood Connection / Leslie E. Korn ; foreword by James Lake, MD.

Websites –

Should You Refrigerate Bread? / by Nashia Baker. (

How to Extend the Life of Fresh Produce: The Way You Store Them Makes a Big Difference / by Diana Rattray. (

How to Keep Potatoes Fresh for Longer / written by WebMD Editorial Contributors;  Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev. (

What Fruits Shouldn’t Be Stored Next to Each Other? / by Andra Picincu. (Live

12 Fresh Foods You Should Never Store Together / Lisa Marie Conklin. (The

20 Foods You Should Never Store Together / by AuthorCheryl Magyar. (Rural

These Are the Fruits and Vegetables You Shouldn’t Store Together / Alyssa SybertzAlyssa Sybertz. (Reader’s Digest,

Quick Subject links to the Library catalog:

It’s more than possible to find materials in the library’s OPAC using the phrase “meal prep” but the following subject headings may help narrow your results.

Make ahead cooking.

Quick and easy cooking.

Food Preservation. (Vega, New Catalog)