Happy Fridges, An Innovative Solution To Collect Excess Food We Waste And Distribute To Needy People Across India

From our friends at
Feeding India
Sayantani Nath

October 16th, 2018 / 6:33 PM

The refrigerators in our kitchens are stocked with excess food often, and most of the times, a sizeable portion of those end up in the trash can. Meanwhile, a family just a few metres away from our home may be struggling to manage one wholesome meal a day. Sleeping on tattered sheets, they may be dreaming of a plate full of hot, steaming food while we are busy filling our garbage bin with leftover snacks, fruits or cooked meals.

Donate: Help Us Install Thirty Happy Fridges Across India To Fight Food Waste And Hunger

Feeding India, a non-profit NGO has been actively working for the last four years to bridge this painful gap between food wastage and empty bellies.

This World Food Day on 16th October 2018, the Hunger Heroes of India have pledged to put a full stop to hunger in the country. As part of their #FightFoodWaste campaign, they have resolved to set up 500 community fridges nationwide, where people can donate their excess food which is accessible to all. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

Another two important aspects of the ‘Happy Fridges’ initiative deserve special mention here. Firstly, Feeding India follows a completely eco-friendly policy and prohibits people from keeping food in any kind of single-use plastic packets or containers. Only paper boxes, bags or reusable containers are permitted. Also, unlike the community fridges already existing in some cities, these ones will be installed right at everyone’s doorstep, so willing donors need not travel far for depositing the food.

The Problem

Hunger is perhaps the most severe and yet overlooked problem in India, and the latest statistics corroborate the same. The Global Hunger Index 2018 has positioned India at a horrifying 103rd place among 119 countries, even behind many underdeveloped African nations and our neighbours Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. India’s GHI score happens to be 31.1, which is appalling when compared to the best-performing nations who have a score below 5. The results indicate a dangerous food scarcity scenario for the underprivileged section of the population, where acute malnutrition is the inevitable outcome. The worse part is that India’s hunger crisis has deteriorated drastically over the past few years. At 21%, India has the highest rate of child wasting which signifies that one in every five children in India is undernourished.

Reportedly, over 260 million Indians go to sleep hungry, which means India is home to over 25% of the world’s hungry population.

A child’s upper arm is measured to detect malnutrition in the village of Baggad, in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar district (India)

The other side of this picture exhibits a discrepancy. As a matter of fact, India is the country which appears in school textbooks as the world’s largest producer of grains. Approximately 40% food in the world goes down the drain, of which India is accountable for food wastage worth a whopping Rs 58,000 crore. No matter how much we boast about the rich culture of the country, we cannot look beyond the heaps of food wastage that happens in religious and cultural festivals or social ceremonies like the big fat Indian weddings. Restaurants, caterers, hostels and even households are responsible for the massive amount of food wastage.

The Solution

To combat the food wastage on one hand and food crisis on the other, Feeding India aims to create a connecting link – hence the community fridges. The team has already set up a few community fridges in localities in and around Delhi and NCR, and the response has been overwhelming. Whenever there is excess food at home, the people continue to deposit it in these fridges, and anyone who is hungry can access the same any time of the day.

One of the Happy Fridges installed near an apartment in Delhi

With more and more people approaching Feeding India to install the same in their locality, the organisation decided to launch this campaign on a nationwide basis. In the first phase of the campaign, Feeding India will install 100 community fridges or “Happy Fridges” as they prefer to term these, in cities across India, with each fridge aiming to serve 1,500 to 20,000 meals per month. The fridges can be set up near entry/exit gates of residential complexes, community centres, near guard rooms, below corporate offices etc.

To ensure a smooth execution of the entire process, the campaign has been outlined in three steps. Willing people can appeal to Feeding India for setting up a ‘Happy Fridge’ in their apartment societies or any other location where it can be accessible to a large number of people. The online registration process is simple, following which volunteers will get in touch with them to set up a Happy Fridge.

Feeding India has set up strict guidelines regarding the type, quality and segregation of food items. A log book will be maintained by the caretaker of the refrigerator. The maintenance, electricity costs and other expenses will have to be borne by the community members themselves. Feeding India staff will provide special training for proper handling of the fridges, and any servicing requirement will be attended to by them as soon as possible, to ensure no one dependent on the fridge goes hungry for long.

It just needs an electricity point, some excess food and a little bit of your empathy and cooperation to make India hunger-free.

Now you can also be a part of the campaign

  1. Sign up to set a free Happy Fridge: Feeding India is setting up 500 Happy Fridges nationally free of cost, the largest such movement in the country and around the world. Come! Tag along to experience the change by being a part of it. Sign Up here
  2. Donate:  To ensure that the Happy Fridge comes to life you can contribute to help raise the remaining amount. Kindly donate here
  3. Volunteer: Join Feeding India teams in 65+ cities in India. Lead to set up a school/college/city chapter in your location. Register as a volunteer here.Impact: The 8500 Hunger Heroes in the Feeding India family have served more than 12 million meals in the last 3 years. You can be a part of this change too!
  4. Pledge to Not Waste Food: Every time you or your organization pledges to not waste food, you make a commitment to save the environment and help end hunger. Even the smallest of efforts counts. Pledge here



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