Doctor in Chennai sets up community fridge outside hospital

Chennai: Hunger is a bigger ailment than any disease. This was the statement that Dr C K Velmurugan stressed firmly when we asked him about the community fridge he had set up to feed the poor in front of his hospital at Mugappair in the city.

A community fridge is a concept that has gained popularity worldwide. It involves a refrigerator located in a public space where anyone can put food in and share within a community, especially with the poor. The concept strikes a single big blow to two of humanity’s greatest problems- hunger and food wastage.

The community fridge that Dr Velmurugan has set up, is right outside Aarogya Heart and Multispeciality Hospital in Mugappair.

Explaining why he started this initiative, he said,”I offer free medical consultation for the poor at the hospital. I realised that most of them, especially children suffer from hunger. In life, the most important thing is food. For the rich, the biggest problem they have is eating too much. But for the poor, hunger is their biggest disease. I observed that due to the lack of proper food, they have low immunity and suffer from other diseases.”

“At this time, I read an article about a doctor in Kerala who started a community fridge to help feed the poor people. I will give credit to the media for bringing out such a positive story to the world. This created the spark in me to start this initiative,” he added.

Velmurugan says that the community fridge initiative is part of a larger project that he began when he started the hospital.

“Around 4.5 years back, I started free consultation for the poor. Though I did not advertise it initially, around three years back I put up a board so that more people can benefit. The Annam initiative (community fridge) is a continuation of this project,” the doctor said.

Dr Velmurugan says that this was not a one-man initiative. He firmly believes that when we do good, a lot of people will come together to help.

He said,”The fridge was given to me free by someone who has not even met me. The cabinet next to the fridge was given by the local Lions Club so that people can donate clothes for the poor to take. People voluntarily came and helped me.”

“Initially, I provided food for 40 people, twice daily through a hotel. Slowly a few hotels and marriage halls started sending out their excess food. The common public have come out in large numbers to donate food. The food they give, gets taken out within half an hour,” he adds.

Today, the community fridge feeds a lot of poor people in the area. Sometimes, even nightwatchmen from banks, ATMs and other small clinics nearby take food. No one misuses the facility, the doctor said.

Dr Velmurugan is now talking to hospitals and clinics around Mugappair and Ambattur to make this project bigger. He says,”It is easier to run from hospitals. Funds for the fridge can be arranged and the hospital has to take care of just the electricity bill.”

“Food should not go to waste and no one should sleep with hunger, that is the most important thing,” he says and concludes.

To reach Dr Velmurugan, call 9840734972.

A Harsha Vardhan