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Food & Hunger

This “solidarity fridge” takes leftovers to a whole new level

Flickr: Kathleen Franklin

After commuting to New York City all summer for my internship at Global Citizen, I can tell you with great confidence that I never encountered a refrigerator sitting on the sidewalk.

I really wish I had.

One town in Spain has changed the food waste game by introducing the country’s first “solidarity fridge,” a communal refrigerator located right on the street. Everyone is encouraged to place leftover food in the fridge, and anyone is allowed to eat its contents.

Alvaro Saiz, the mastermind behind the solidarity fridge, was determined to find a better use for the massive quantities of food thrown away by restaurants, supermarkets and households each day in the town of Galdakao.

“We started to think that if even just one of their rubbish bins was replaced with a fridge, people could take advantage of these items,” he said.

Saiz proposed the idea of a communal refrigerator to the town’s mayor, and quickly received the permits and funding needed to launch the solidarity fridge initiative in April 2015.

Since then, the fridge has prevented 300 kilograms (about 660 pounds) of perfectly edible food from going to waste, saving fresh produce, baby food, sandwiches, ice cream bars, and more from meeting a premature demise.

To ensure the safety of all users, eggs, fish, and raw meat are not allowed in the solidarity fridge. Any homemade dishes must have labels explaining the ingredients, and must be thrown out after four days.

Not that anything lasts that long, anyways.

“Restaurants drop off their leftover tapas at night-- and they’re gone by next morning,” said a volunteer who cleans the fridge.

The fridge has been embraced by the entire Galdakao community, ranging from those in need to construction workers looking for lunch. Elderly women in the town have even starting cooking meals especially for the refrigerator.

Another solidarity fridge has opened in the Spanish town of Murcia, and Saiz says he’s received calls from communities around the world hoping to start a similar program.

Would you like to see a solidarity fridge in your own community? I know I would.

Make sure the whole world gets this creative in providing access to safe and nutritious food by signing the petition in TAKE ACTION NOW.