Saigon residents stock public fridge to feed those in need

3 weeks into citywide social distancing, Saigon residents have been facing unprecedented challenges.

As the city grapples with daily caseloads, suspension of non-essential businesses, and a high unemployment rate, more and more people can’t afford food.

To make sure that no one goes hungry in Saigon, a resident came up with a solution – a public fridge. The fridge, located on No. 100 Ung Van Khiem Street in Binh Thanh District, is always stocked with donated food and supplies.

People can take what they need from the public fridge

Saigon public fridge
Khoi stocking the fridge with vegetables
Image adapted from: Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Tuan Khoi, the operator of the fridge and a restauranteur, told Tuoi Tre, “The increasingly stringent COVID-19 restrictions have affected the vulnerable badly. We hope that the community fridge will help the needy residents well-fed during the COVID-19 crisis. We welcome volunteers who want to donate supplies as well as those who need to take some.”

According to Khoi, he runs a restaurant that dishes out around 10,000 meal portions per day to serve those in quarantine facilities. 

Saigon public fridge
Image adapted from: Tuoi Tre

Aside from stocking the fridge with vegetables, meat, and eggs daily, Khoi and his family also prepare free groceries and meals for those in need. 

Saigon public fridge
Some residents coming to leave and pick up items from the fridge
Image credit: Thanh Nien

The public fridge starts working at 3PM daily, while free lunches are handed out at 11AM. 

While the original idea of setting up a public fridge is to provide people with free food, Khoi also hopes that it can help reduce food waste in the long run.

Public fridges will also help reduce food waste

public fridge
A resident grinning from ear to ear after collecting some items from the fridge
Image adapted from: Tuoi Tre

Soon, Khoi plans to set up 10 more fridges in public places, even after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.

Aside from helping those in need access clean and healthy food for free, public fridges can also prevent people from wasting food.

Saigon public fridge
People can trade groceries through the public fridge.
Image credit: Thanh Nien

“The point of having a public fridge is to reduce food waste. For example, if you have eggs and you don’t use them, you can put them in the fridge for those who need them. At the same time, you can take fish from the fridge if that’s what you want,” he said.

You can leave what you want and pick what you need

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, a lot of Saigon residents are going through hard times. 

With the initiative that Khoi and his associates support, more people will have the opportunity to give and receive collective care.   

If you wish to support Khoi’s relief efforts, visit the public fridge at No. 100 Ung Van Khiem in Binh Thanh District and put in what you have. For those who face food insecurity, come to the fridge and take what you need. 

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Cover image adapted from: Tuoi Tre

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