Finding Takers for Lonely Leftovers in a Culinary Nook of the Sharing Economy

BERLIN — Fresh from a bracing workout at the gym, Anton Kaiser gazed hungrily into a refrigerator, considering arugula, pineapple jam, salted butter and two bags of green grapes before reaching for a white bread roll, baked that morning. “I haven’t eaten all day,” he said, “so it’s great.”

Perhaps best of all, it was free, available in the middle of a graffitied courtyard in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. Like the rest of the offerings in this so-called food sharing refrigerator, Mr. Kaiser’s bread roll would, under normal circumstances, have gone straight into the trash.

But in Germany, where concern about wasted food has mounted in recent years, such refrigerators — stocked with leftovers from private parties and restaurants, and open to the public — are just one of several initiatives aimed at keeping edibles out of the garbage.

There are roughly 100 of these food sharing sites in Germany. About 50 have refrigerators, and the rest are just shelves. They are a small, offline branch of, a two-year-old Internet platform that gives members a chance to connect with other food sharers online, should they find themselves in possession of an extra cabbage or, as one Foodsharing post put it, “too many delicious organic potatoes for one person to eat.”

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