Pappadavada, a restaurant located at the Kaloor-Kathrikadav Road in Kochi has been the talk of the town recently and for all the right reasons. Minu Pauline, a banker turned restaurateur, has created quite a buzz in the city with the introduction of a public fridge named 'Nanma Maram' (tree of kindness) with the dual objective of feeding the homeless and reducing food waste. This community fridge has been truly living up to its name by helping tackle the issues of hunger and wastage of resources pervasive in our society.
This compassionate and exceptional venture followed from her realisation that while her own hotel disposed of excess food, there were many poor and homeless out there who had to scavenge from the trash cans. This induced her to come up with the idea of starting a public fridge as a gesture of goodwill. The option is open to customers and outsiders as well, who have been contributing ardently to this cause. “I had planned to mark the date and time whenever someone made a contribution to ensure that stale food wouldn’t be given away but the response has been so overwhelming that there is no need for it. The food packages are used by the needy almost immediately after they have been contributed,” Pauline said.
What sets this approach apart is that Pauline encourages and expects people to contribute excess food rather than contributing something that you have to pay extra for. The excess food from her restaurant which would otherwise be wasted, the excess food from home and eating out can be utilised to feed the needy who will not be able to afford food otherwise. “Thinking about how much food we all waste every day, I realised how this can be used to feed those who are less fortunate. Someone can be happy through our efforts,” she says. She also reiterated the problem of wastage of resources that we all find ourselves guilty of.
Mini drew inspiration from the concept of Coffee on the Wall that is followed in countries abroad wherein one pays for two cups of coffee, one on the table for oneself and one on the wall which is for people who cannot pay for it. “I really liked the concept and modified the same thinking about the wastage of food in our society,” she added. Joppu Sebastin, a businessman who is a regular contributor to this cause says, “More hotels can come up with such approaches to serve the needy. Rather than wasting food, they can also contribute to this social cause.”