A woman saw hungry people digging in her restaurant's trash, so she put a fridge outside.

On her late night walks home from cleaning her new restaurant, Minu Pauline was struck by how often she'd see homeless and hungry people searching her garbage for a meal.

Photo by Minu Pauline/Facebook. Used with permission.


"I have seen so many people ... taking food from the trash bin, so it was a shocking thing for me," Pauline told Upworthy.

It forced Pauline — who left her bank job to open Pappadavada in her hometown of Kochi, India, in 2013 — to think about how much food she herself threw out, not only from her restaurant, but also in her daily life.

"So many people are wasting so much food and someone is taking that food from the same trash," she said.

Three years later, Pauline opened a second location of her restaurant with one major addition: She put a fully functional refrigerator out front, and stocked it with food.

Photo by Minu Pauline/Facebook. Used with permission.

Pauline, her customers, and others from the community, leave their leftovers, marked with the date, inside and homeless and hungry people can take whatever they need at any time of day.

Pauline nicknamed the fridge "nanma maram," which means "tree of goodness" or "virtue tree." The fridge is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The refrigerator stays unlocked, allowing hungry people to take what they need without the shame of having to beg.

"They don't have to ask anybody," Pauline explained.

How much food do we waste? A lot.

Food waste is a global problem. Above, people pick through a dumpster in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo by Sven Nackstrand/Getty Images.

According to the UN Environment Programme, roughly 33% of all food produced for human consumption worldwide is ultimately lost or wasted. A staggering 40% of food in India perishes before it can be consumed, while the U.S. wastes a similarly eye-popping 30%.

Pauline asks people not to purchase food specifically for the refrigerator and to only give what would otherwise go to waste.

Pauline said the fridge has been a huge hit so far and many in her local area have already started contributing their leftovers.

According to Pauline, people stock between 200 and 300 packets (or portions) of food per day in the fridge and, typically, whatever is there in the morning is gone by the evening.

Rather than give to charity, she explained that setting up the fridge was a chance for her to give back the way she knows best.

Food for sale at Pappadavada. Photo by Minu Pauline/Facebook. Used with permission.

While Pauline knows her small outdoor fridge won't solve world hunger overnight, she believes it can make a huge difference for a few in need, while combatting waste at the same time.

In the meantime, her message to her customers is simple:

"What I say is that, 'If you have extra food at home, or if you eat out and you find that you have extra food, come and drop it in this refrigerator," Pauline said.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

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Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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