A new cool way to reduce food waste and helping the needy at the same time has become successful in the small town of Galdakao Basque Country.
Galdakao “Galdácano” is a small town with about 29,000 inhabitants in the Vizcaya province. They have Spain’s first “solidarity refrigerator”. It is simply a refrigerator, set up on a public street where anyone can donate or collect leftovers. It has been equipped with a small wooden fence around the refrigerator so no one would believe that it is placed there to be thrown away.
It is the union of volunteering in Galdakao “Asociación de Voluntarios de Galdakao” led by Alvaro Saiz, who has installed the refrigerator. He pointed out gently that the refrigerator is not only meant for the hungry and needy in the society, but the purpose is to combat discarded food. Food that would otherwise be thrown away can become useful and it does not matter who leaves or retrieves food.
There are some rules about what can be donated in the refrigerator – not raw meat, seafood, or eggs, nor anything that has passed the expiration date. Homemade food is fine as long as it has a label that indicates when it was made. The refrigerator is checked daily by volunteers, and so far nothing has been discarded due to rules not being followed, and no vandalism has occurred. In fact nothing has become old in the refrigerator, everything has been taken on a daily basis.
During the two months that the refrigerator has been in operation, it is estimated that about 200 to 300 kg of food has changed hands. Those who put the food here are both individuals and the city’s restaurants.
It took about a month to get through the paperwork needed to implement the project. A permit was needed from the municipality for the use of public area. Legal documents were also necessary to ensure that the organizer would not be held responsible if anything goes wrong with the food that was retrieved from the refrigerator.
It appears as if this phenomenon can be spread, and in the last week a refrigerator has been set up in the Murcia province in southern Spain. Alvaro Saiz daily receives calls from all over the country from associations who want to set up similar refrigerators. He has also received phone calls from abroad, even as far away as Bolivia.