Mumbai: Anyone who is in need can take a meal for free from the community fridge set up at St Joseph’s Convent School, Bandra west, says Sapphire D’Penha, a resident of Bandra, who has been managing the fridge on a voluntary basis.
The fridge has been set up in the school compound where anybody can walk up and get a free meal.
“Anyone who is in need of food can walk up to the school and take a food packet. Those who have lost jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic or do not have ration to cook in their homes, or youngsters who are living by themselves can come and pick up a meal. The community fridge is open to one and all,” D’Penha said.
The community fridge is a voluntary project of the Rotary Club of Mumbai Queen’s Necklace, Nobody Ever Sleeps Hungry (NESH) non-governmental organisation (NGO) and Daughters of the Cross Nuns.
Speaking about the motive behind the fridge, D’Penha said, “It is a different initiative than the usual food distribution or charity as many people are ashamed or embarrassed to stand in a queue for free food. But, we just want to provide food to those who are in need.”
While many people take food packets every day, there are also those coming forward to fill up the fridge with food.
“Many people come to keep home-cooked meals, food packets and water in the fridge. We need more people to come forward and keep cooked meals in the fridge so that we can serve those in need,” D’Penha added.
Adding further D’Penha added, “As the fridge is open to give food to everyone, it is also open to receive food from anyone. Common people and residents can keep meals in the fridge. Restaurants, hotels, cafes and shops can donate raw materials or cooked meals which can be kept in the fridge for distribution. Even extra food from parties, functions, weddings or other events can be sent to the fridge.”
Sr Rohini of the Daughter of the Cross Nuns, said, “We encourage people to help and provide food in this time of need. They can provide fresh meals which can help those who are hungry and in need of food.”
The Rotary Club of Mumbai Queen’s Necklace and NESH NGO aim to set up more than 150 community fridges across Mumbai to reach out to more people. Zohair Diwan, founder of NESH NGO, said, “The community fridge initiative is a self-sustainable model where Mumbaikars can stand up and help other Mumbaikars in need. We need people to come forward and donate fresh meals, refrigerators and safe locations to set up a community fridge so that we can help more people in such difficult times.”
Asif Porbanderwala, a member of the Rotary Club and NESH NGO, said, “Along with creating a sustainable model, we wanted to give respect to the needy while combating hunger. There are many people who would not ask for food upfront so we aim to set up community fridges in every gully of Mumbai wherein people from the neighborhood can provide meals and help the needy. We can start by cooking an extra meal a day in the house, some extra chappatis which can help those who are hungry.”