It’s like “take a penny, leave a penny” -- but with food.
“Social fridges” or “solidarity fridges,” offering free food to the hungry or homeless, have been popping up across Argentina, according to AFP. Local restaurants or good Samaritans leave leftover meals in a fridge, in front of a restaurant or in a central plaza, and anyone who needs food can take it.
“It’s very exciting to see what’s happening,” Fernando Ríos, a restaurant owner told La Nacion, according to a HuffPost translation. “The fridge has turned into a kind of fantastic bridge between the neighbor who has a leftover plate of food, and the one who needs one.”
The sign on the fridge above says it all: “Take freely, only what you need."
Unlike in the case of a soup kitchen, where people are handed food by someone else, here people can take food without having to ask anyone for it.
"The idea is for people not to look like they're begging," Gabriel Shneider, a charity worker, told AFP. "It is a notion of solidarity that aims to make those in need feel more dignified."
In Buenos Aires, NGO Red Solidaria took the solidarity fridges to a whole new level, combining them with another free item distributor: a “perchero social,” or “social coat rack,” according to the news outlet. The coat racks, displayed in the central Plaza de Mayo, offer free clothes to those who need them.
"Are you cold? Take one,” says a sign in front of the hut. “Want to help? Leave one."
This movement is growing against the backdrop of new president Mauricio Macri vowing to attain “zero poverty” in the country.
So far not so good: Macri’s policies have led to a 5 percent increase in the rate of poverty in the first three months of his presidency, according to a report from the Catholic University of Argentina. An alarming 35 percent of Argentines now live in poverty.
In other countries around the world, similar fridges offering free food to those who need it have been gaining traction, from Spain to India to Saudi Arabia. By redistributing food that would otherwise have been thrown out, the fridges are not only feeding people in need, they're also helping to combat food waste.
“The cold doesn’t kill,” says the tweet below, showing people in front of the free food and clothes distributor in Buenos Aires. “What does kill is indifference.”