UAE - When communities come together, miracles happen. In 2016, Dubai-resident Fikra Yel opened up a sharing fridge in her neighbourhood so the needy could help themselves to food from the refrigerator.
Over time, the movement grew, and with the creation of a Facebook group 'Ramadan Sharing Fridges', Dubai residents were encouraged to set up and stock fridges all over Dubai for those in need. A volunteer with the group since the beginning, Magda Scriabine, said: "We have over 200 fridges across the city. Each fridge feeds 100 to 1,200 needy people a day." Magda told Khaleej Times that every bag of food collected by the project is distributed the same day, making it a zero-wastage model.
She added: "It is a grassroots initiative that is super-easy and accessible to those willing to donate." However, the fridges do not accept hot, cooked food, and leftover food. "We encourage people to donate water, laban, milk, canned fruits, all kind of fruits, biscuits, crisps, etc," she explained.
Each fridge has a manager who interacts with the donors as well as people who walk in to collect the food. "A fridge manager is a person or the family that has set it up, an individual who has decided to give back to the community," she added.
The group is closing registrations to open fridges this weekend, and interested people can write to firstname.lastname@example.org. "You need to obtain permissions from community or building management to set up a fridge," said Magda. Most people who access the fridge are from the working community, people working around the compound where the fridge is, and near construction sites. Children and families spend the evenings before Iftar distributing packages to those in need in their neighbourhood, making it one of the most widely participated community initiatives in the city.
As part of the UAE Food Bank Initiative, the Dubai Municipality has also installed over 80 sharing fridges in various parts across the city.
Private companies have also set up fridges in various neighbourhoods in Dubai. Schneider Electric has set up solar-powered fridges in two locations in Dubai - Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (DTEC) and Ras Al Khor. This community-driven initiative was launched in partnership with Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS, Pilani), Aikah Establishment and Luminous to give back to the society in the spirit of the holy month.
Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay is setting up two Ramadan sharing fridges for the third consecutive year. With their mantra of 'think globally, act locally', the vision of the sharing fridges is to benefit the neighbouring community in the Business Bay area. This Ramadan, the fridges will be launched with a splash of colour inspired by the Year of Tolerance, as Steigenberger will invite everybody to leave their colourful handprint and loving energies on the two big fridges on May 2 from 10 am onwards.
KT tips and tricks for the #FoodSoldier in you
Throughout the course of our campaign, Khaleej Times will reveal three food conservation tips and tricks every day. Follow these to become the number one #FoodSoldier
How to make food more appetising
1-Eat the yolk
Although most people are moving away from the once-popular low-fat dieting trend, many still avoid egg yolks, opting for egg-white omelets and scrambled egg whites instead. If you simply don't like the taste or texture of egg yolks, you can add them to other recipes to mask the flavour. You can even use yolks as an ultra-moisturising hair mask.
2-Blend it up
Blending up a nutrient-packed smoothie can be a delicious way to reduce food waste. While the stems, ends and peels of produce may not be appetising in their whole form, adding them to a smoothie is a way to reap their many benefits. The stems of greens like kale and chard are packed with fibre and nutrients, making them a great addition to smoothies. The tops of beets, strawberries and carrots also make great add-ins.
3-Make homemade stock
Whipping up a homemade stock is an easy way to use excess food. Sauté vegetable scraps like the tops, stalks, peels and any other leftover bits with some olive oil or butter, then add water and let them simmer into an aromatic vegetable broth.
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