Sol­i­dar­ity Fridge help­ing peo­ple in need

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing @chi­

Sol­i­dar­ity Fridge, a project that first ap­peared in Spain last year to en­cour­age peo­ple not to waste their leftover food, has made its de­but in Shang­hai, of­fer­ing free food to those in need.

Su­per­mar­kets, restau­rants, farms and in­di­vid­u­als are help­ing to pro­vide 30 food items ev­ery week­day, in­clud­ing milk, yo­gurt, rice cakes, canned food and snacks, which are leftover or close to their “best be­fore” date. The items are placed in a fridge in a com­mu­nity ac­tiv­ity cen­ter on Pux­iong Road for the pub­lic to con­sume.

Zhang Qi­uxia, project di­rec­tor of the Shang­hai Oa­sis Eco­log­i­cal Con­ser­va­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Cen­ter, a Shang­hai-based non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion that op­er­ates the project, said the in­ten­tion is to sal­vage as much food as pos­si­ble that would oth­er­wise go to waste, help­ing those in need.

Statis­tics from the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the UN show that the value of food thrown away each year in China is $32 bil­lion, while nearly 134 mil­lion peo­ple are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing hunger.

“We col­lect food that is go­ing to be wasted from farms, food pro­duc­ers, re­tail­ers and in­di­vid­u­als, and we or­ga­nize pro­fes­sional trans­porta­tion and sort­ing of the items so that they reach vul­ner­a­ble groups in the com­mu­nity,” Zhang said.

The re­frig­er­a­tor has been pop­u­lar since it was un­veiled on Sun­day, with all items be­ing taken be­fore noon, ac­cord­ing to Wang Longy­ing, a vol­un­teer who helps register the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of peo­ple who come to col­lect food. They are re­minded to con­sume the prod­ucts be­fore their ex­pi­ra­tion date.

“Most of them are se­niors. I am happy to see that the project is re­ally help­ing those in need on a prac­ti­cal level,” Wang said.

The fridge is only one of the NGO’s projects. It also helps to pro­vide food shelves, in­clud­ing items such as rice, cook­ing oil and milk pow­der, at the com­mu­nity ac­tiv­ity cen­ter. But such items are for im­pov­er­ished house­holds in the com­mu­nity only.

“Such fam­i­lies are al­lowed to pick up one food item per month. In con­trast to sub­si­dies for im­pov­er­ished fam­i­lies, the project in­cludes many en­ter­prises, so it can reach more house­holds,” said Zhang Jing, di­rec­tor of the Pux­iong neigh­bor­hood com­mit­tee.

She said in­di­vid­ual do­na­tions are not cur­rently ac­cepted due to food-safety con­cerns.

The NGO op­er­ates food shelves in four neigh­bor­hoods in Shang­hai, with about 120 met­ric tons of food do­nated by more than 40 busi­nesses hav­ing been dis­trib­uted to at least 50,000 peo­ple so far.

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A res­i­dent (left) gets a free cup of yo­gurt from a vol­un­teer with the Sol­i­dar­ity Fridge project in Shang­hai on Tues­day.

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