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A solar-powered fridge for street food vendors


Written by Sarumathi K.

Original article by The Hindu. Link is here

Date: August 10 2018

Illustration: Deepak Harichandan

It will ensure hygienic food and reduce wastage of perishable ingredients


Every evening, at Sanjaynagar, a quiet residential neighbourhood, Chaat Street, as it is popularly known, becomes a street food hub that draws food lovers from across the city. Around 10 to 15 vendors set up stalls offering everything from chaat and momos to idlis, parothas and 99 varieties of dosa.

With street food, however, hygiene and freshness of ingredients are always a concern. Aakarsh Shamanur, a Bengaluru-based architect and systems integrator, believes he has a solution: community refrigeration. He had pitched the idea at the ‘Reimagine Waste’ Hackathon conducted by the non-profit, Waste Impact Trust, and the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), last year, and won a grant of ₹50,000.


Pilot project


Now, Mr. Shamanur has launched a pilot project at Sanjaynagar with the support of Citizens for Sustainability, a civic group. Four street food vendors, selling dosa, idli, vada, and parotha, have been provided with mini-refrigerators to store perishable ingredients and food items such as chutney and batter. The fridge is placed in a truck near the push carts so that vendors can access it easily.

“Before launching the pilot on August 4, we spoke to the vendors and customers. They told us that chutney and some side dishes turned stale quickly. When we put forward the fridge idea, the vendors readily agreed to try it,” Mr. Shamanur said.

“The truck with the fridge is stationed only from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The idea is to offer fresh food to customers. The pilot will be run for a few days, and based on the feedback from the vendors, a solar-powered refrigerator will be installed in the vending zone,” he said, adding that the model could be replicated in other areas where there is a high concentration of street food vendors. The fridge provided in the pilot run is an electrical one. Shivramegowda, who runs a dosa stall here, found that he no longer had to throw away ingredients that had gone bad. “Keeping chutney and the batter from turning sour has been a problem. Sometimes, I would have to throw the stale chutney. Now, I store half of it in the fridge,” he said. The solar fridge will be given on a monthly subscription.

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