We have all seen the images, in person or in the media, of homeless, unemployed and poor citizens cruising the dumpsters looking for something to eat. Spain is no exception when it comes to this sort of daily tragedy, but one socially conscious entrepreneur came up with a brilliant idea—a community refrigerator that sits outside, stocked with leftovers from restaurants and private homes, available 24-hours a day, seven days a week for those down on their luck to come and take whatever suits their fancy.
Alvaro Saiz, former director of a Galadakao food bank in Spain, spawned a revolutionary idea that not only means food with dignity for Spain’s poor residents, but also a new way for better-off citizens and the many restaurants to get in on this good deed of helping those less fortunate. Now, instead of restaurants throwing out several pounds of leftover food into the dumpster every night, workers happily pack everything up in Tupperware containers and cart it to the Solidarity Fridge, as this community refrigerator is called. People at home are in on the deal too, with cars frequently driving up to stock the Solidarity Fridge with yummy leftovers from private homes.
Alvaro Saiz says that he was inspired by reading about another feed-the hungry program where people would post online what they had available and where it could be retrieved. But, what about people who do not have computers or access to internet? The Solidarity Fridge is much more low-tech and requires nothing more than the ability to walk over to the refrigerator.
Galadakao’s mayor, Ibon Uribe, was definitely surprised by the idea, yet at the same time struck by the novelty of it so he gave an immediate okay. However, there were some liability issues to work out, so that no one can sue the city should they get sick. Certain rules were put into place, such as how long the food can stay on the shelf, excluding raw foods, such as meat, eggs and fish, labeling homemade food and of course, severing any legal connection between the fridge and the city. Thing is, though, nothing stays in the fridge long enough to be a problem. The refrigerator is stocked with delicious food from homes and restaurants, even with specially made dishes just for the Solidarity Fridge. Galadakao’s poor know where it is and they waste no time in receiving fresh fruits, vegetable, salads, baby food, milk, and even one of Spain’s most famous dishes Basque tapas.
Kudos to Alvaro Saiz for coming up with such a perfect win-win solution for hungry residents. The idea is spreading and hopefully there will be a Solidary Refrigerator in all the world’s communities so the poor no longer need to visit dumpsters.