A new charity initiative has hit the Bahrain streets
Time Out Bahrain staff
A new charity initiative has hit the Bahrain streets in the form of fridges and free food. We speak to Feed the Need founder Michelle Bailey to find out how we can all help.
Some of us take for granted our ability to pop into the supermarket, load up the trolley and then fill our fridges with plenty of fresh produce for the family. Unfortunately for some in Bahrain, however, regular grocery shopping is impossible due to a lack of funds. With this in mind, EMEA Development director Michelle Bailey, with the help of her six-year-old daughter, came up with an idea to make it possible.
It all started when Michelle read an article about a man in Saudi Arabia who put a fridge outside his house filled with free food for people from the area to take. ‘I posted it on Facebook and had about 50 to 60 friends say it’s a great idea,’ Michelle tells us. ‘So I said “Okay, let me call you on it. Let’s do it.”’
And so she did. Just before Ramadan, using some money from a weekly garage sale she runs and her daughter’s savings (which she kindly donated), Michelle started ‘Feed the Need’, an initiative that at the time of writing has so far seen 14 fridges installed at various points around the island, over 1,000 members join the cause and at least 50 people regularly donate food.
The idea is that charitable folk can donate a fridge and/or food to leave in the already-installed fridge in their area. Then, anyone in need can take two items at a time. ‘The best kinds of foods to put are non-perishable particularly because many of these people don’t have a fridge at home,’ Michelle explains. ‘So, kilo bags of uncooked rice, long life milk, bread, ready meals (like biryani), and as everything is gone in about three hours, nothing expires.’
It’s only been five months but already Michelle has received a lot of attention, not just in Bahrain but from around the region as well. People have come from Saudi to stock the fridges, while ladies from Qatar and Oman have contacted her wanting to set up the same initiative in their respective countries.
‘A few people kept saying to me “what possessed you” and one guy told me it would never work,’ says Michelle. ‘The deal is we either do nothing and the situation never changes or we do something and see if it works.
‘You’ve got to take a chance.’
Through such a simple idea, Michelle has now formed a community. The Hi-Mart supermarket employees in Saar, at the site of the largest fridge (which Michelle’s daughter bought), are also pulling their weight as now, all you have to do is go into the store, buy the food and they’ll even stock it for you.
‘Generally the people who don’t have much want to give the most,’ says Michelle. ‘Many of us will go for a coffee and a muffin and easily spend BD3 or BD4 and not even think about it. That’s a day’s food for these guys.’ If just five or six people are putting BD3 worth of food per day, she says, we can all begin to decrease hunger issues in certain areas. Michelle also covers any transportation of the fridges and buys the explanatory stickers using 100 percent of the funds from her weekly garage sale. So there are absolutely no admin costs and everything can be put towards donations.
Although Michelle says they’re not looking for any specific corporate sponsorship, what will really help to drive the idea forward is a brand to offer non-perishable foods in bulk at a reasonable price. So far, she has been approached by a company offering to maintain and clean the fridges, has had individuals approaching her from all over asking to donate, and even kids in Bahrain-based schools have been looking at ways to raise more funds.
‘We just want to give food to people for free,’ she says. ‘It’s already creating a real community with everybody. It’s a very simple idea, simple to be involved and it works. You just have to take a leap of faith.’ To find out more or to organise the donation of a fridge, then contact Michelle on firstname.lastname@example.org or 3962 7883. Visit ‘Feed the Need Bahrain’ on Facebook.