When the GHMC announced the introduction of the ‘Feed The Need’, the WhatsAppers in the city were frantic with forwards, calling it ‘revolutionary’ for its community-building messages around sharing good food with the needy.
Similar ventures have been implemented in Chennai and Bengaluru, some fridges in certain areas attracting donations, depending on the people in said areas.
Saturday February 2, 09:54
Lined up neatly alongside the Loo Café and the new digitised Madhapur bus stand, the Feed The Need kiosk is brightly painted so it doesn’t disappear from view — bright green on the inside and black on the outside with streaks of colourful stripes along the sides. The brightly-lit Blue Star industry-standard refrigerator is illuminated welcomingly inside.
I overhear two young men chatting: “Why do they need so many flowers? They will go to waste; they can use that money to buy some samosas and keep them inside,” one complains. The other asks, “Shall we buy something and keep?” The first responds quickly, “No, yaar, we have to meet these people later for movie.”
Naturally, post-inauguration the fridge was teeming with fresh produce, a large foil takeaway box and even a fresh cake with enough frosting and icing for one’s monthly glucose intake.
A man dressed in a brown shirt and black trousers curiously walks up to the fridge and peers inside. He looks around and at me, before inching his hand towards the door handle. There’s no one of authority around to explain what’s going on. He opens it and looks inside, sees some cake and someone from Loo Café says in Telugu, “help yourself!” and he obliges with a small serving of cake. He walks away happily.
Peering inside, I note there’s a yellow-brown hardened stain of who-knows-what already on the bottom of the fridge and I point it out to no response from anyone.
Sunday February 3 through to Tuesday February 5
The fridge is empty as its mechanisms silently whir and the light inside looks lonely. Has the enthusiasm for this venture purely been for WhatsApp and social media?
Wednesday February 6, 10:03
Despite the building traffic heading towards Cyber Towers and Kukatpally, we manage to get easy access to pull over next to the fridge… and lo and behold! There are two bags; one of cooked sona masuri rice and a hefty bag of idlis. No chutney or curries to go with them but, hey, progress is progress.
As I walk up to the fridge to snap some pictures, a man in an Apple Homes T-shirt says hello to me. He introduces himself as Malayya and explains he is here to ensure the food that goes into the fridge is good quality and that also he is there to explain to the hungry and homeless that the fridge and its content is there for them.
I ask him if people have been adding to the fridge and if so what kind of people. He responds, “Some young people who have lunch nearby and have excess takeaway will keep some food here. But I think there needs to be more. It’s not enough.” I mention there’s another fridge set-up in Banjara Hills near Chiranjeevi Blood Bank which has not yet been inaugurated. He nods and adds, “I think that one will have more food.”
Malayya says to be patient. He wants people to be more mindful of the food which goes to waste. “Wait till summer, madam!”