Community refrigerators (fridges): India
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To feed the hungry
The poor and the needy now have places where they can get food. Public fridges set up by communities at BTM Layout, Brookfields, Indiranagar, Koramangala and Benson Town have opened an avenue for those with surplus food to help the hungry. NGOs involved in the endeavour say at least 400 people will benefit from these fridges daily.
Issa Fathima Jasmine, managing trustee of Public Foundation which opened the public fridge at BTM Layout in November last, says: “The BTM Layout fridge alone feeds 70-100 people a day from 7am to 9pm. Anyone wanting to give away homemade food just needs to pack it neatly and keep it in the fridge. People who are hungry can open the fridge and have it.”
The public fridge is Issa’s brainchild. Earlier, she would give surplus food cooked at home to a woman next door. However, once the woman moved out, she didn’t know what to do with it. She, in fact, drove around the city looking for people to serve the excess food. “Sometimes, I would give food to the hungry and sometimes I’d bump into people who didn’t need it. I then decided the only way to resolve this was to install a fridge so that anyone could eat the food kept in it,” says Issa.
“The idea of a community fridge is to provide a platform for leftover food or eatables that people wish to donate to the less fortunate, but without hurting their dignity,” she says.
The idea soon caught the imagination of many residents and restaurant owners. Byblos, a Lebanese restaurant in Indiranagar, has kept a community fridge outside the restaurant which feeds more than 20 people. “We keep the same food that’s cooked for the staff which is fresh. It’s not leftovers,” said Nilesh Bansode, manager of Byblos.
Carrots, another restaurant in Koramangala, has a community fridge outside the restaurant which feeds 30-40 people from morning to evening. “The food kept in the fridge gets consumed within an hour. Most of the time, our customers keep their extra food in the fridge,” said Amir Thapa, captain of the restaurant.
Koramangala resident Pranathi K, who often keeps homemade food in the community fridge, says earlier she’d have to go looking for hungry people to give away food.