The community refrigerator in Versova. Photos: Gopal Hegde
"If you want to see more kindness in the world, put it there."
These words are often said by many, but followed by a few. However, Gopal Hegde, president of the Versova Welfare Association in Mumbai has done his bit and taken a step to put kindness out there for the world to see and follow.
A community fridge can feed 100 people
The community fridge, an initiative taken up by the Versova Welfare Association (VWA) is a step towards feeding the hungry and reducing food wastage. "We found out about the concept from a restaurant in Kochi. The idea is to stock excess food from restaurants and local homes in a refrigerator for anyone who is hungry," says Hegde.
The initiative started with around 60 packets per day at Versova near the Vateshwar Temple, and now has one more fridge at Oshiwara. Today, the quantity of food has increased to around 140 packets daily, which includes dal-rice, burgers, ice-creams, cakes, fruits and more. Hegde informs that it can feed more than 100 people a day.
"It is nice to see that a lot of people have started contributing to this cause. Right from restaurants who have excess leftovers to even locals living nearby are trying to help and contribute in whichever way they can," he adds. For those who drop by for a bite at the community fridge, there is plastic cutlery like spoons and plates to eat with.
Features of a community fridge
A community fridge is not like your home refrigerator. It is big, comes in a steel finish and glass doors. It also has a light that tells people if the fridge is stocked or not. "We plan to expand to other areas as well, and install at least three more fridges in Mumbai. With this we will hopefully be able to help a lot more people," hopes Hegde. A record is kept for the food contributed by a team who check on the quality and quantity to make sure that it isn't stale or gone bad.
Who is it for?
Everyone, right from the homeless and needy to the auto-rickshaw drivers, local shop owners, elderly and hungry kids come up to this fridge and take what they need. It's open to anyone and everyone who needs food irrespective of who they are.
How can you contribute?
The success of this initiative has been possible through word of mouth and it still plays a big role in the smooth functioning of the initiative. "Anyone who wishes to contribute can just drop by with food for even a single person and do their bit," adds Hegde.
The next time you have leftovers from a party or have ordered excess food from a restaurant, you can drive to Versova or Oshiwara in Andheri to donate it.
Location of the Versova community fridge - Vateshwar Shiva Temple, Seven Bungalows, Versova
Location of the Oshiwara community fridge - Morya Classic, next to Dheeraj Gaurav Heights, Off Andheri link road, opp Infiniti Mall