The Philadelphia chickenman is using his platform to address hunger in his neighborhood

South Philadelphia Community Fridge raised $1,000 in a less than day after Alexander Tominsky solicited donations on Twitter.

South Philadelphia Community Fridge is a volunteer-run mutual aid organization with six community pantries and three community fridges

South Philadelphia Community Fridge is a volunteer-run mutual aid organization with six community pantries and three community fridges

Courtesy South Philly Fridge
ashaprihar-headshot

The Philly man who drew hundreds to an abandoned pier to watch him consume a rotisserie chicken said he’ll probably never eat it again — but you might still find him distributing it to people in need.

Alexander Tominsky has started using his worldwide reputation as a serial poultry consumer to raise money for South Philadelphia Community Fridge.

His first fundraising post on social media garnered the volunteer-run mutual aid organization its largest-ever one-day donation total, and plans are in place to further the partnership by giving out rotisserie chickens some time during this holiday season.

“I live with the people that are relying on these resources,” Tominsky told Billy Penn, noting that the South Philly nonprofit is based in his neighborhood.

Tominsky posted a call-out to Twitter on Wednesday encouraging donations to the organization, which runs six community pantries and three community fridges. In less than a day, $1,000 in donations had poured in, according to Victoria Jayne, a South Philadelphia Community Fridge volunteer.

The organization has even set up a specific contribution page for anyone motivated to donate “in relation to the rotisserie chicken situation,” Jayne said.

Already, the influx has been enough money to install a whole new fridge at one of the sites that only has a pantry right now, per Jayne.

Since Sunday’s event, Tominsky has received attention for his 40 days of chicken-eating from all over, from the New York Times to the BBC to the Washington Post. PETA is calling for him to go vegan. His Twitter account now has over 44,000 followers.

Alexander Tominsky's set up at the pier behind the Walmart

Alexander Tominsky's set up at the pier behind the Walmart

Solmaira Valerio for Billy Penn

Jayne watched social media videos of the scene as it unfolded while waiting in a checkout line at the IKEA just a mile away, and loves the idea of fundraising off something that celebrates “all of the positive energy and attributes of Philadelphia,” she said.

“It’s very interesting to look at how the attention economy kind of works,” Jayne added. “Especially because of mutual aid … in 2022, it’s so social media heavy. So it’s been really exciting to see something organically go viral like this, and then to have the opportunity to partner and use it for a good cause. That’s been really rewarding.”

Tominsky issued Wednesday’s call for donations in a style that mimicked the posters he used to promote the OG chicken event on the pier near Walmart.

“Come help them eat any food because they don’t have enough,” the new flier reads. Like the first flier, it continued, “This is not a party.”

But it added a second line, addressing the many hungry people in Philadelphia, where more than 1 in 10 residents face food insecurity: “This is real life.”

“The original poster was sort of about eating so much that it’s painful,” Tominsky said. “And this is about people that are pained because they don’t have enough to eat.”

Started during the pandemic, the South Philadelphia Community Fridge is now fiscally sponsored by the California-based Open Collective Foundation. It keeps the 24/7 pantries and fridges around South Philly stocked with food donations from restaurants, grocers, and individuals, as well as groceries volunteers buy with monetary donations. Anyone is able to take food from the fridges.

Tominsky connected with the mutual aid org when Jayne made a post to the group’s Instagram story about the chicken event and tagged Tominsky’s personal page, inviting him to hand out rotisserie chickens with the organization — “just name your time and place.”

He messaged her back with his phone number a few hours later, Jayne said. They started planning for a rotisserie chicken drive, hopefully using chickens donated by a grocery store or some other chicken-roasting entity, to be held at a yet-to-be-determined date.

Another boon for the group’s efforts borne out of the abandoned pier episode: Local graphic designer Jim Anderson, who goes by GRIMGRIMGRIM, recently designed a new print based off the chicken-eating event and is donating half of the profits to the South Philly Community Fridge.

Tominsky said he’s inspired by the dedication of the group’s volunteers, and sees using his platform to help the community as something that’s “just important.”

He also encouraged donations to local hunger nonprofit Philabundance when he appeared on Fox29’s Good Day earlier in the week, and said he’s open to working with other nonprofit organizations.

“I didn’t do this project in a selfish sense,” Tominsky said. “We’re all one big city. We’re all neighbors, and we just need to look out for each other.”

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