Solidarity Fridge helping people in need
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.