Sromona Bhattacharyya Bhattacharyya
Hailing from Kolkata and now a resident of Bengaluru, Sromona is a multimedia journalist who has a knack for digging stories that truly deserve attention.
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.
Upon hearing Dr Jasmine’s efforts, Harish Kumar, a resident of Bengaluru’s BTM Layout, approached her. Harish, while talking to The Logical Indian said, “Everyday, when I used to take my daughter to school, I saw garbage trucks picking up leftover food.” Since the idea of community fridges caught Harish’s imagination, he contacted Issa Fathima Jasmine and expressed his wish to install a similar fridge in Bengaluru.
Harish said, “Under her guidance, I installed the fridge.” The community fridge in Bengaluru was set up in November 2017 and is run under “The Public Foundation”, the organisation run by Dr Issa. Harish also plans to expand to other locations in the city and is on the lookout for responsible volunteers who would take up the project and maintain the quality standards of the community fridges.
However, The Public Foundation’s community fridge in BTM is not the first in the city. Reportedly, restaurants like Byblos in Indiranagar had set up a 180-litre community fridge under the leadership of Rotary Club of Bengaluru. Similarly, residents of Brookfield had also inaugurated a community fridge in January 2018 to stop food wastage.
Issa Fathima Jasmine is the managing trustee of “The Public Foundation” which runs these fridges in both the cities. Talking to The Logical Indian, she said, “I thought of this idea in February 2017. However, it took me six months to talk to the local corporation body and launch my initiative officially.” She was earlier looking at private properties to install the fridges. However, that did not work out as she had hoped.
She realised that it was difficult for an individual to begin a project of this sort on their own and hence, had to take the help of the corporation who provided Issa with the space that she required. This is Issa’s brainchild aimed at tackling hunger and preventing wastage of food. She said, “Many times we forget to eat our lunch or a packed meal which goes wasted. Moreover, meals cooked in excess at homes often go wasted.” The platform of a community fridge enables people to donate food to the needy without hurting their sentiments or dignity, she said.
These community fridges are mostly located in residential areas where donors have to adhere to specific guidelines before donating food items. Issa said, “We do not want people to eat stale food and hence ask our donors to pack it neatly.” People are not allowed to donate milk packets and non-vegetarian items in these fridges as well. These fridges are further looked after by security guards who ensure the quality standards of the food that is left in the refrigerators. Each of these refrigerators is open for operations from 7 AM to 9 PM and has the capacity of storing 400 packets of food.
We often end up dumping excess food in the trash, not knowing what to do with it. However, access to a community fridge might resolve this problem. The idea of community fridges is to bridge the gap between the givers and those in need, seamlessly. The Logical Indian commends Mr Harish and Dr Issa Fathima Jasmine for their efforts towards diminishing the problem of hunger in the country.
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