June 2016

The Ramadan Sharing Fridges initiative gets a smart upgrade for 2017

The Ramadan Sharing Fridges are back again for 2017. And this year, the grassroots community movement, which encourages residents to share surplus food with their needy neighbours, is getting a smart upgrade.

On May 27, 2017, the first day of Ramadan, a faculty member at the American University of Sharjah launched a free mobile app as a way to support the Ramadan Sharing Fridges campaign community.

The Ramadan Fridge Sharing campaign was initially organized by 13 expats who saw an opportunity to share the bounty of food prepared during the holy month with the more needy in their communities, by hooking up fridges outside their residents and stocked with freshly prepared food produce. The campaign, which is operated under the Red Cross umbrella, attracted a viral following of volunteers who were eager to help out and become part of the cause.

Ramadan Sharing Fridges is a way for the public to share their food with those in need and help spread happiness and security during the month of Ramadan. Fikra Yel one of the first and an active member of the initiative mentions that from her interactions with many different volunteers, she found that they all feel connected as humans and as a community. Yel stated that “It is like everyone is on the same team and doing everything they can to makes this a success for the less fortunate. The main goal is to keep the fridges filled with love!”

Along with the volunteers, Yel has noticed the reactions and comments of the labourers who benefit from the fridges. Yel says, “that [the labourers] appreciate it and feel noticed. They are happy to see people do care and we are thankful for them because they are the ones who are always around and make sure the streets are clean, the plants are watered and so on.”

2017 is the second consecutive year of this initiative, and so far more than 150 fridges are being continuously stocked and re-filled with food and drinks.

Each fridge has a designated “fridge manager” who looks over the operations, ensures that they are clean, also that the food inside the refrigerator is appropriate and edible.

This year, the Sharing Fridge campaign has already attracted more than 24 000 registered member on Facebook, which provide a crowd-sourced map of the refrigerators around the city, directing people to nearby fridges where they can donate food.

The Facebook page also serves as an information portal for the campaign. Page managers and community members routinely field questions, about the location of the nearest fridges; how to set up a fridge and whom they should speak to if they discover a problem with a fridge.

The newly-released mobile app, which was designed using data from last year’s campaign, prominently features answers to the community’s most common FAQs. Through the app, people interested in participating in the Sharing Fridges campaign can easily locate all nearby fridges, or set up a fridge of their own. Users can also contact fridge managers in the event of a problem. Additionally, if the user has any questions or wants to report a problem with an existing fridge, it can all be answered and solved through the app.

The platform of the app is very straightforward and clean, and most importantly very easy to use which helps many people navigate the mobile app to its highest potential. Fikra Yel commented on the new Ramadan Fridge mobile app, and states that it is a useful tool for finding the fridges and having more detailed information about the fridges and their managers.