Chennai is a city that never fails to surprise you, with its dynamism, spirit and kindness. Ayyamittu Unn might ring a bell for some of us. For the uninitiated, it is a crowd sourced community fridge, which is open everyday from 7am to 9pm. Dr Issa Fathima Jasmine the creator of this project has installed the fridge outside the Besant Nagar Tennis Club. Ayyamittu Unn is a one-line poem from the collection Āathichoodi, penned by Avvaiyar in Tamil. It means “share the food with the needy before you eat”. We couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful name.
Why was it started?
“We all have some amount of food left over every day at our homes that get wasted. Initially, I used to give it to a lady sitting outside our home. I soon realised there must be others like her who would be benefited by the food.” she said in an interview to a news daily. The activities are carried out under the banner of The Public Foundation, which has its own Facebook and Instagram page.
Can I donate?
Anyone can donate safe and edible items. The good thing about this public, available to all fridge is that donors of food are asked to share details about when the item was prepared, expiry date and such. Anyone who might have otherwise gone hungry are welcome to help themselves to the items in the fridge. The upcoming festival season is a good time to feed the less unfortunate.
Who are the people who stand to benefit from the community fridge?
People living on pavements, beggars, street children, and anyone who isn’t as fortunate as many of us are, to help themselves without paying anything. There are security guards in the place to ensure safety of the items.
Can I donate items other than food?
Absolutely, the fridge often sees donations of books and clothes as well. The foundation even gets donations from outside the country, recently from Singapore. You never know what you don’t have a need for that might be of use to somebody.
This initiative is one among a few growing community fridge projects. A similar project in Kochi, set off a domino effect of the good kind in other cities such as Bengaluru, Mumbai, Jaipur and Gurgaon. If we’re looking to build a stronger community, this is definitely a step in the right direction.