Restaurant places fridge in street. Customers leave their leftovers there so those in need can eat

 One of the saddest contradictions of modern life is that every day, countless tons of untouched food are thrown away while thousands of people lose their lives to starvation. It’s a contradiction we’ve come to accept. Despite the best efforts of governments and charities around the world, chronic hunger and malnutrition seem inevitable.
For one brilliant Indian restauranteur, however, the solution to global hunger starts at home. Minu Pauline, owner of Pappadavada restaurant in the city of Kochi, had a simple idea: to install a fridge outside Pappadavada for her patrons to store their leftovers and for the city’s impoverished to take from as they please. Shocked into action by the sight of a hungry woman rummaging through trash for food late at night, Pauline decided to create a 24/7 resource for the poor and the hungry.
 Though her work is purely local, Pauline recognizes the larger social implications of her solution. In an interview with HuffPo, she criticizes those who contribute to food waste: “If you’re wasting your money, it’s your money, but you’re wasting the society’s resources” when you let good food spoil or throw it away. Thus Pauline’s efforts can be seen as an attempt to recapture society’s claim over its own resources so that they may benefit the society as a whole.
 Ideas like Pauline’s are more important than ever. Though India may be halfway across the world, Americans would do well to learn from the Pappadavada experiment. According to a recent article in The Guardian, nearly half of all U.S. food produce goes to waste. Though much of this waste is the result of supermarkets rejecting produce with minor visual imperfections, as the article discusses, a larger portion of perfectly edible food is wasted by consumers. This wastefulness is an absolute injustice in a country where one in five households experiences food insecurity.
Governments and charities cannot solve this problem alone. Rather, the solution to hunger in a community must begin and end in that community. Soup kitchens, food banks, farmers’ markets, community gardens, hydroponics, and innovative solutions like Pappadavada’s are all major steps towards eradicating local starvation. But to make these local miracles a global reality demands a collective effort. Each and every one of us possesses the power to improve the lives of others. It is only when we see people in our communities as separate from ourselves that we can rationalize away their suffering as “not my problem.” Were we all a little more like Minu Pauline, the world would be forever changed.

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