TUCUMÁN Pope Francis declared war on waste months ago. Now, three of his kinsmen in northern Argentina have developed an idea to keep perfectly good food from being tossed and to help the hungry at the same time: "social fridges" where people can leave "neat portions" of leftover food.

The initiative was launched in the city of San Miguel de Tucumán and social fridges have also been installed in Salta and Jujuy, following an idea by restaurant owners Fernando Ríos Kissner, Luis Ponda and Daniela Viñas.

"We were surprised by the idea's impact," Ríos says. "It's barely been up and running a week, and many people have spoken to us about leaving their food." He says the idea came up when he and his team one day saw a news image of a man putting his child into a street bin to look for food.

Restaurant Muna Muna's "social fridge" in Tucuman — Photo: Facebook page

Several bakeries and eateries also contribute food to the refrigerators, some of which have been discreetly placed so that beneficiaries can take food without becoming a spectacle. Besides restaurant food, the fridges accept any food in good condition and packaged for one person.

"We prepare portions," Rios says. "We never use food remains. For example, a couple orders a pizza. They leave three pieces nobody has touched, so we duly prepare that and send it to the fridge."