The public Fridge helps to tackle India’s big, bad hunger problem
As people have been trying to tackle the ever-widening problem of hunger, Chennai’s Dr Issa Fathima Jasmine might have found a solution which seeks to address the issue of both food wastage and hunger to a certain extent. In August 2017, the 35-year-old orthodontist opened up the first public fridge called ‘Ayyamittu Unn’. In a matter of months, three other locations in Chennai and one in Bengaluru sported these community fridges which has been providing free food to at least 400 needy people on a daily basis. Not only food, but people across the city can keep books, clothes and other stationery items in these fridges. Taking an inspiration from this, a man from Bengaluru too has started a similar initiative in the city.
In a city where one has Zomato, Swiggy, high-end restaurants, big breweries, ice cream parlours, Indira canteens and numerous other options, food should be the last worry on a Bengalurean’s mind. Yet, there are hundreds of families who go to bed on an empty stomach in Bengaluru every day. While mid-day meals in schools, government schemes and NGOs have slowly been trying to solve this problem, public refrigerators are an innovative solution to feed the needy, by encouraging the entire community to participate in the process.
The concept of public refrigerators is relatively new to India, though it has been a common feature in the West for a while now. Ayyamittu Unn, an NGO in Chennai has been working towards this goal, having installed public refrigerators not only in Chennai but also in Bengaluru. The uniqueness lies in collecting food from those who have it in excess, and providing it to the needy in a dignified manner, that doesn’t belittle the taker.
There are multiple public refrigerators placed in different parts of Bengaluru: BTM Layout, Koramangala, Basaveshwaranagar and Indiranagar. Brookefield now has one to call its own. The Brookefield Layout Association run by residents of the area successfully set up a public refrigerator near Ryan International School this year. This refrigerator in Brookefield was officially inaugurated on 26th January, 2018. From raising the money required to set the refrigerator up to ensuring that it runs regularly without any hassle, the association has made sure that the project is a success.
Installing a public refrigerator requires dedication and planning. Land and electricity had to be found. An empty piece of land which wasn’t being used by its owner eventually became the location for the refrigerator. The electrical connection was sponsored by a housing society in Brookefield. To meet the costs of the installation, the residents raised funds up to Rs. 1 lakh.
Setting it up was only the first step. Maintenance and security had to be taken care of. No spoiled food would be kept in the refrigerator and the food had to be packed well. Since everybody was allowed to donate food, it was even more important to make sure that hygiene and freshness of the food were always maintained. On the days a large amount of food donated, the crowd also would be huge which needed to be regulated. To solve all these issues, they decided to hire a security guard who would monitor the refrigerator everyday.