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.

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My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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