Dubai: A Ramadan fridge opens its doors to the public around the clock starting on the first day of the holy month, with the aim of giving those in need the freedom to have access to food and drink at any hour of the day especially during iftar and suhoor time.
Welcoming food and drink donations including fruits, laban, snacks and energy bars from all residents in Dubai, each Ramadan fridge is a small project that is managed by the fridge manager and is customized to suit the neighbourhood it is located in.
With no restrictions on size and capacity, fridges this year vary from cool boxes and small fridges to industrial sized fridges.
Sumayyah Sayed, creator of the ‘Sharing Fridges group’ on Facebook explained that each fridge owner takes time out of their day to do their small part and give back to the community. “The fridge owner ensures the food that goes in is handled correctly and distributed. For example, on Fridays, there may not be many community workers around so the fridge manager may use that day to deep clean the fridge, stock it up and have it ready for Saturday,” she said.
Discussing expiry dates and types of food accepted at the community fridges, Sayed pointed out residents are encouraged to follow a “simple rule of thumb”- “If you’ll eat it yourself, out it in,” she said.
Hot foods and pre-prepared dishes will not be accepted this year due to food safety regulations. However, juices, laban, cake, biscuits, dates, dry fruits, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and energy bars are among the favourite items at the Ramadan fridges.
“We need residents to help us keep our fridges filled. It’s not just about having a sharing fridge, filling it is equally as rewarding and makes the community workers and fridge managers very happy,” said Sayed.
Bringing people together
Along with helping the needy, the Ramadan fridge initiative is also bringing neighbours and community members together for a noble cause.
Gulf News talked to participant Zahra Ahmad from the UK, who has set up a Ramadan fridge with a friend for the second year running at the Golden Mile building Palm Jumeirah.
“Our location is the focal point for Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), Al Safa, and Jumeirah, as we oversee the fridges in these areas,” said Ahmad.
Regularly receiving corporate food and drink donations, the Dubai resident of six years, ensures fair distributions to the five Dubai communities on a weekly basis.
Collecting donations from supermarkets and restaurants in the area, Ahmad along with other residents in the Palm Jumeirah community, is also distributing hot-meals first hand to workers during iftar time.
“We have created our own Facebook group for the Ramadan Fridges at the Palm Jumeirah and we aim to spread awareness about the initiative and receive more donations during the month of Ramadan. We already have 125 followers,” added Ahmad.
Just the same, Alison Wade, a resident at Jumeirah Village Triangle (JVT) is also using social media channels to regulate and organize volunteer gatherings and donations.
“I have set a Whatsapp messenger group for people who want to volunteer and members in the community. On the second day of Ramadan, we had six neighbours turn up in the morning who donated food and helped package up the items,” she said.
With a very busy fridge location, Wade said she refills her large outdoor shop fridge placed in her garage at least 15-20 times a day. However, receiving help from her two boys, aged 9 and 12, as well as neighbours in the area has made the task much easier and more enjoyable. “To avoid food wastage, we are avoiding goodie bags this year, so that workers can choose what they like from the fridge. We have packed three to four dates in small packages, and have had plenty of laban packs which has proved to be extremely popular,” explained Wade.
With three fridges open in the JVT community this year, the local supermarket has also volunteered to deliver any food and drinks donations to a fridge in the area. “Last year, the community supermarket had a sign up saying they would deliver donations bought at the store to fridge locations in the area. They are planning to do the same this year too,” said Wade.
What you can donate:
Dry fruits and nuts,
Fruits and vegetables
*Hot foods and pre-prepared dishes will not be accepted this year due to food safety regulations.