A new and uplifting partnership for Harvard Square’s Fridge in the Square

The Harvard Square Business Association (HSBA) is pleased to announce the return of “Fridge in the Square”, a community led food program for those in need.

This program, hosted by First Parish, will now be joined in partnership with students from Lesley University’s Threshold Program which educates and creates opportunities for neurodivergent students. Neurodivergent people represent 20% of our population (1 in 5 adults), yet are frequently overlooked in inclusivity efforts.

Recognizing the potential of these students and in an effort to provide them with an enriching classroom and real-world experience that includes; finance, budgeting, graphic design, organizing, social media, outreach in the community and community building, Denise Jillson the executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association and Catherine Horan, Director of Career Services for the Threshold Program, developed a curriculum for the program’s second semester.

Team Threshold is partnered with the HSBA to ensure that “Fridge in the Square” will be managed effectively. The students will be responsible for inventory management, budgeting, hands-on shopping, shelving and weekly food preparation of “to-go bags”. The bags will contain prepared sandwiches, a juice drink, piece of fruit, cookies and chips and stored in the fridge for those who are unhoused and food-insecure.

Berkshire Bank, a member of the HSBA is sponsoring this program. Maria Montgomery, Sr, Vice President of Private Banking for Berkshire said, “Philanthropy is ingrained in the culture of our bank. We listen, educate and empower the financial potential of the communities where we operate. We are committed to making a positive impact and believe that great things start locally. Investing in potential is our focus. We are proud to support TEAM Threshold as they learn important life skills while serving the unhoused and food insecure in the Cambridge community.”

Lesley’s Horan said, “Lesley is a long-time member of the HSBA and over the years, our Threshold students have interned at the association office. While we are grateful for those opportunities, the wider circle cast by this program cannot be overstated. This addition to our academic curriculum, made possible by Berkshire Bank’s financial sponsorship, coupled with a newly formed partnership with First Parish will be transformative for our students, while providing a service for those in need.”

Carol Lewis, First Parish’s Director of Administration and Operations stated, “First Parish has been hosting “Fridge in the Square” since August of 2021; we are overjoyed with its reactivation after a 6-month hiatus due to a renovation project here at the Parish and are excited to partner with the Threshold Program and Berkshire Bank. The shed is prominently staged in front of our newly-painted, historic church that is truly the cornerstone of Harvard Square. We witness the daily food donations from local businesses, residents, parishioners and neighbors and know that the Threshold student’s efforts could not be bestowed on a more grateful population.”

Jillson said of this program, “We are so proud of our HSBA members Lesley University, First Parish, and Berkshire Bank, who came together to make this happen. The opportunity for Threshold students to provide for the unhoused and food insecure, while learning life skills upholds Fridge in the Square’s motto to please take what you need and leave what you can.

Photo: Maria Montgomery, Senior Vice President of Private Banking for Berkshire Bank presents Carol Lewis, First Parish’s Director of Administration and Operations with a sponsorship check.

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