A sanitation worker towing the dustcart in the morning heat, a boy of 9 years age wandering near the temple gate, a labourer who has worked through the night on the construction of roads – their eyes beam with bliss as they know that today’s not the day they are going hungry; nor is tomorrow, or the day after.
Versova Welfare Association (VWA) – a community of 25-30 people – has installed five fridges across Mumbai where people can deposit excess or fresh food for the underprivileged.
Started by VWA President Gopal Hedge, the project aims to eradicate hunger.
The first fridge was set up in Versova on 15 June 2017, outside the Shiv Vateshwar Temple. All the food deposited is vegetarian and anyone in need can just open the fridge and take the food without paying for it or asking for permission.
“Our motto is dignified living. People should not feel ashamed of picking up the food because everyone has the right to eat and no one should go hungry,” said Harish Kundnani, one of the members of VWA, speaking to The Logical Indian.
At present, there are five operational fridges – one each in Versova, Oshiwara and Mira Road and two in Ulhasnagar. The last project was completed in the past week.
“Many hoteliers also contribute by sending fully packed meals for 10-15 people every day. Several restaurants, households and ladies come and deposit food in the fridge,” said Kundnani. “The two fridges that I overlook, fulfil at least 300-400 meals a day.”
“We got inspiration for this project by a lady in Kochi was installed a fridge outside a restaurant to hoard the excess food. The fridge transformed into a community fridge where people would deposit food at will,” he added.
For easy access to everyone, the fridges are located on the main roads – outside restaurants, societies, temple, etc.
“The only area where we made an investment was purchasing the fridges. The food is regularly deposited by people. As more and more individuals found out about the initiative through word of mouth, the more food we had to offer. During birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions people like contributing toward the welfare of the society, so most of the time the fridges are packed with food. If on any day there is a shortfall, we use our funds to stock the fridges with food. Our goal is that the fridges should never be empty,” said Kundnani.
The objective of the project undertaken by VWA is to eradicate poverty, not only from Mumbai, but to act as an inspiration to eradicate it from the world. “If everyone comes forward, the goal can be achieved. Even if one chapatti is contributed per household, then also world hunger can be removed,” believes Kundanani. “The money that we earn is ours, but resources belong to the society and in this endeavour, we should help to our fullest capacity.”