Marking a year of success, community fridges battle the long-lasting struggle of starvation across India. The community fridge, Ayyamittu Unn (translated as ‘share the food with the needy before you eat,’ in Tamil) first set up in Chennai on August 20 by Issa Fathima Jasmine, is a source of relief for many who deal with an empty stomach on a daily basis.
Having set up four community fridges in Chennai, the young orthodontist has established various such fridges with her support and guidance in parts of India, including Bengaluru.
“You can never discriminate hunger between the rich and poor. When I started this initiative, my idea was to ensure that the needy and anyone who is hungry has access to food. The fridge caters to a minimum of 100 people daily. In Chennai, we have four such community fridges located in Alandur, Ashok Nagar, OMR and Besant Nagar. I do receive calls from people who are eager to set up similar fridges and I guide them in their venture,” says Issa Fathima Jasmine, when asked how her endeavour of setting up the community fridge has been.
Soon after, Bala Harish Kumar, associate vice-president at United Consultancy Services, started the initiative in November 2017, in Bengaluru. The sight of wasted food being collected by garbage trucks had crawled into his routine. With the Ambedkar slum located close by, Harish decided to take up the challenge of bridging the gap between wasted food and the starvation of people in the slum.
“I read the article on Issa’s initiative in Chennai a few months ago, in November, and installed the fridge. As of now, I am handling everything by myself with the help of my family and the security guard. He ensures that the food kept in the fridge is edible. It is mostly construction workers who use the food, and even some clothes left in the fridge. They say that saving the expense of buying food helps them offer more to their families. People from the slums also use the facilities provided.”
While the single door fridge provides space for people to leave behind unused food for the needy, there is also a closet installed. The donations they receive include clothes, toys, stationary, shoes etc. Over 4,000 people have been using the food and donations made into The Public Fridge.
Rotary Bangalore Brigades has set up community fridges outside restaurants as well. Customers and employees are encouraged to leave behind their excess food there. Byblos in Indiranagar and Carrots in Koramangala are successfully feeding over 10-15 people daily with the help of these fridges.
Susmitha Subbaraju, the co-owner of Carrots, says, “The food is donated into the fridge by both customers and us. We don’t encourage people leaving leftovers in the fridge. We have ‘The Good Karma Meal’ which the customers can buy and donate. Apart from what the customers donate, we also keep a minimum of five meals in the fridge. People in the vicinity are well aware of the service and they do make use of it.”...