Restaurant owner Minu Pauline noticed a woman digging through the trash for food one night, and realized her eatery could cut down on food waste and make a difference for hungry people in her community. She set up a refrigerator on the sidewalk in front of her restaurant where patrons can stow their leftovers for anyone who needs a meal, and the response has been moving.
Pauline’s plan was simple: ask patrons to date leftovers and leave them for the hungry in the fridge, which she named Nanmamaram, or “tree of goodness.” Her restaurant, Pappadavada, would donate whatever was left at the end of their day as well. Community members could give and take from the fridge as they pleased.
Some told her the plan wouldn’t work, and even that the fridge would be stolen, but Pauline moved forward with her plan and it’s turned into a way for the community to express generosity.
Pauline said to The Times of India, “On Easter Sunday an elderly man deposited a huge plastic bag inside the fridge, and tried to leave without a word. I was curious and opened the bag. Inside we found six chappathis, one tub of chicken curry, a big cake, and soft drinks. When I told him we only wanted excess food, he practically begged me to take it. ‘We want to the poor to have these along with us on Easter,’ he said.”
That’s just one example of the generosity the fridge has prompted. People have come into Pappadavada to order food specifically for the refrigerator, and one day a few children put their candy into the fridge.
Pauline hopes her idea can help tackle food waste as well. While she appreciates the outpouring of generosity, she hopes to target leftovers and food that would otherwise end in the trash. With so many going hungry, it doesn’t make sense for food to be thrown away.
She’s talked with people who have benefitted from the food, and while they each have a different story, Nanmamaram provides a boost for them as they struggle against their current circumstances. She says the food doesn’t remain in the fridge long – each day she puts 75 to 80 portions of food into the refrigerator, and there’s room to do so again the next day.
Via GOOD Magazine