One of the paradoxes of India is the simultaneous existence of plenty and poverty. According to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, every third malnourished child is Indian, yet hundreds of tons of food is wasted across India every day – across homes, events like weddings, parties, and restaurants.
There have been news reports that the government is evaluating laws that restrict the number of guests at weddings, reduce the number of items on wedding menus etc. Surprisingly, this is not without precedence. Did you know of the Guest Control Order of the 1960s, which was introduced to regulate the number of guests at weddings and social gatherings? This was done to tackle an acute food shortage in the aftermath of the Chinese aggression and a famine.
Globally too, governments are taking worthy steps to move towards reduction of food wastage. Restaurants in France are legally obliged to provide diners with a carry bag. The Scottish government provides free carry bags to restaurants in the country and the United Kingdom has a food waste supermarket wherein consumers can purchase food discarded by supermarkets and food businesses, on a pay-as-you-feel basis.
Residents of Suncity, a society in Gurugram, have come up with an innovative way to combat food wastage. A fridge has been installed near the entrance of the apartment, into which residents and others to contribute both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food items.
Any of those in need of food, need not be residents, can take whatever they please from this fridge, whenever they please.
Vidhya Venkat, one of the residents of Suncity, said, “I have seen many people leave food in the fridge. The response seems great. From laddoos to everyday roti subzi everything is being kept in the fridge for consumption.”
Rahul Khera, one of the key people behind the setting up of Sharing Shelves – the organisation that is being floated by a group of Sun City residents, said, “This is part of a bigger initiative we are trying to implement in our society. We started with waste management and segregation of waste and it was while doing this we thought of doing something that will ensure reduction of food wastage. What started with just my family led to over 30 families joining hands.”
The response to the fridge has been tremendous. From packed boxes of sweets, to regular everyday food, to dairy products like milk and ghee is being left by residents. “Sometimes one is just conscious of giving away food to drivers and watchmen and this was one way in which we could bring together those who want to donate and those who require the food,” he said.
One must admit that there is a certain dignity to the whole process and it works for both the giver and the receiver.
Minu Pauline, owner of a popular restaurant Pappadavada, in Kochi, in March 2016 installed a community fridge under a Konna tree (Cassia Fistula) and aptly named it Nanma Maram (Virtue Tree). “Apart from the food that Pappadavada keeps in the refrigerator, we request individuals, party makers, event managers and restaurant owners to deposit leftovers, but fresh and eatable food, neatly packed in this refrigerator of love. Through this ‘Nanma maram’ endeavor, we aim to conserve the precious natural resources and at the same time douse the hunger of several people,” she said in an interview to New Indian Express.
These are certainly initiatives that one can applaud and imitate.
For further details about Sharing Shelves, you can contact them here.