Think of a poor person you come across every day while going to the office or when you are at someplace. What do you see? You see them coming towards you and begging for food and money. Now imagine when they are not begging for food from anyone and they are getting packed and preserved food from their own refrigerator. Yes, you read it right. A fridge which contains food in it and is placed at some fixed reachable spots. This is known as ‘Community Fridge’.
The idea of a community fridge is that people in the neighboring areas can donate food they don’t need, and those who are need of a meal can get easy access to it. With food waste becoming a global concern, community refrigerators have come up all over the world.
In an attempt to fight hunger among the poor and stop wastage of food, a Tamil Nadu-based NGO, The Public Foundation, established The Public Fridges in Chennai in 2017. In November 2017, The Public Foundation made an attempt to extend its reach by installing a community fridge in BTM Layout, Bengaluru. Open from 8 .a.m. to 8 p.m., the community fridge has been a hit.
“We currently feed over 100 people daily. I also receive calls from people eager to set up similar refrigerators in the two cities,” says the non-profit’s founder Issa Fathima Jasmine. “Some people feel embarrassed to pack leftover food at restaurants. They walk away but do not realize that their leftovers are later dumped in the garbage. Instead of leaving food to be dumped, they can pack the food and leave it in the nearest community fridge for the needy,” she added.
Ankit Kawatra, the founder of Feeding India, a non-profit that collects food from donors and distributes them at their centers in over 45 cities, says “A lot of food gets wasted in transportation. This is minimized through community refrigerators.”
Community refrigerators have helped reduce food wastage in the UAE, Germany, and France. India too can popularise and scale up the initiative.