Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Food & Hunger

This woman is stocking a fridge outside her restaurant for the hungry

Youtube

Pappadavada, an “ethnic tea shop” and restaurant in Kochi, India, placed a working fridge outside and it's not because they have no room to spare inside. The fridge isn't for the restaurant--it's for the community. Passersby are asked to put their unused food that would normally be thrown away into the fridge that is then available to anyone who's hungry. 

It’s an idea that's simple yet powerful. And the story behind it is just as inspiring as the everyday acts of generosity the fridge has generated. Check out the video below to see the fridge in action. 

The restaurant’s owner, Minu Pauline, saw a woman scavenging through the trash one night and reacted by taking action.

She was shocked to learn that the woman had woken from sleep because she was experiencing such hunger and was so desperate that she began to dig through the trash for food. Pauline is aware restaurants and customers waste millions of tonnes of food each year. This article estimates that about 10 percent of restaurant food ends up in the trash. The US alone wastes about $165 billion USD worth of food a year.

A lot of this food is wasted through inefficient distribution models, and more is thrown away by consumers. Fortunately, there are generous individuals with creative solutions to solve this global problem. 

Pauline dubbed the fridge “nanma maram” or “tree of goodness.” The fridge is open all day and all night for hungry community members. Pappadavada’s owner encourages restaurant patrons leaving food behind to write the date and time on their shared leftovers to protect and prevent food illness.

The tree of goodness doesn’t have any problems with food rotting either. Pauline said in the Huffington Post, “There’s days when I put 100 portions [of food] in there. There’s no limits.”

Pauline believes that restaurants have a responsibility to combat hunger.

"Money is yours but resources belong to societ. That’s the message I want to send out. If you’re wasting your money, it’s your money, but you’re wasting the society’s resources. Don’t waste the resource, don’t waste the food.”

The action Pauline took in her community to reduce food waste and help end hunger is inspiring. Sharing her message with other restaurants could help more communities around the world take on projects such as hers. Hunger exists in all corners of the world and so does excess food. Let’s work together to bridge this gap.

For Pauline, hunger happened to be right outside her door. Her story and that of the fridge show the impact one person can make when they see something that’s not right in the world and decide to take action

What are your thoughts on a “tree of goodness” in more communities around the world? Share your thoughts in the comments below.