A new method to combat waste; community fridges
“Take what you need. Leave some for your neighbors in need”
The idea of a community fridge is to seamlessly bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots, the givers and those in need.
This is a fridge that is kept in a public area and filled with food for people to take free of cost. The idea of a public fridge was by Yasmin Kaduji, of Banbury, UK. The first series of community fridges in the world were started by the environmental organization called Hubbub. They have started more than 50 since 2017, and it saves half a ton of food from being wasted per month. They now plan to open up another 50 community fridges by 2020.
In 2017, Dr. Issa Fathima Jasmine set up a community fridge in Chennai. This fridge is a place that people could keep leftover or excess food, and it provided free food to the needy. There is even a storage shelf nearby for people to donate clothes, shoes, or books. Soon, three more fridges were set up in Chennai, and then in Bengaluru. These fridges open the door not just for those in need, but also reduce the guilt of those who do not want to waste food.
Restaurants also can keep community fridges outside so that they can put any food in these fridges instead of letting them go to waste. Any licensed restaurant has the resources and ability to set up such a fridge, as long as they have a desire to help the poor. There are also restaurants in Chennai and Bengaluru that run a community fridge, and they put fresh food in the fridge everyday in an attempt to provide free food to the needy.
However, community fridges are not just vehicles to save and distribute valuable food. They also help in bringing people together and in fostering a community spirit. It is a relatively new idea, but these are already social places that are brimming with positivity and sharing. They aim to prevent household food wastage, and inspire people to share food. The whole institution of the community fridge builds trust, improves lives, and strengthens the community.
Food wastage is a major issue in Indian cities, and redirecting the movement of this food can seriously benefit the underprivileged. Many a time, we forget to eat our food, and a packed lunch or snack goes to waste. Additionally, excess food cooked in households also ends up going to waste. Instead of just throwing food away, we can play our small part in society and donate it to those who are in need. The community fridge allows people to donate food without hurting the dignity of the needy.
One challenge in setting up these fridges was finding people in the area who were willing to take responsibility for taking care of the fridge. However, people jumped at the chance to do their bit for the community, and the beginnings of the community fridge idea in India were quite smooth. There are also Security guards to check the quality of food that is left in the fridges and they also look after the fridges.
These fridges exist in several countries like Spain, Britain, Scotland, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. The idea took longer in India, but was first started by Minu Pauline, owner of Pappadavada, a restaurant chain in Kochi. This idea spread and community fridges have now been installed in Jaipur, Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Noida, Gurguram, and more
If you want to start a community fridge in your area, there are 4 main steps that you should follow.
Find a partner
This could be a partner organization like a restaurant or supermarket. Places like these will definitely have excess food to give, and will also have the necessary resources to support the setting up of a community fridge. You can also team up with the people in your flat or area and set up a fridge.
Choose a location
In most places, the first community fridges are begun in the usually crowded areas of the city. This will allow more people to be aware of such a thing, and also allows the needy to find the fridge with ease.
Build local support
The working of a community fridge will depend on the donations that it receives. There are definitely hundreds of people who waste food everyday, so educating them about a place that they can easily donate their food anonymously will increase the spirit of sharing, as well as adequately stock the fridge.
Recruit and train volunteers
A community fridge needs a certain team of people for it to function smoothly. Thus, recruitment and training of volunteers to get donations and take care of the fridge is important, and these volunteers will prove even more valuable as more and more community fridges pop up around the city.
Community fridges have the potential to be one of the greatest treasures of society, as it pays heed to the needy, and gives people an environment of togetherness and sharing. As the community fridges in our country keep growing, our care for society greatly grows with it.