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Feeding Hearts and Stomach, All at OnceBy Avinash Shanmugam, Shradha Chhabria, sahaana sekhar
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A brief look into tackling food waste in the city and the different initiatives spearheading the change.
Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (Committee on World Food Security, 2009).
We live in a time where no person should go hungry even just for a day. Unfortunately millions do. However, the solution to this may not necessarily be in increasing the production and availability of food, but rather utilizing what is already available, such as food waste. Food waste is described as food that is perfectly suited for consumption, but is discarded by consumers. In Chennai, 4500 MTs of Garbage is collected each day. Of this, 8% is attributed to food waste. Alarming statistics go to show that hunger results in the death of more people than those caused due to AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
Feed is an online platform that was started by Aksha Nanavati, a 23 year old who came up with the idea after she witnessed large amounts of food being thrown into the bin at a restaurant right before her eyes. Since then her goal was not just to do her part in eradicating hunger and reducing food wastage, but also to motivate people to do the same. Some of the restaurants that Feed has approached have agreed to contribute food that is cooked but not always consumed, whereas some “amazing people” as she describes, have come forward to help this initiative by cooking fresh packets of food once a week on a particular day.
Any individual can access Feed’s network by logging onto Feed’s Facebook page. In order to get involved, all you need to do is call up the participating restaurant after dinner or lunch hours, at any day convenient for you, Collect the food in disposable boxes and distribute on the streets.
In order to keep the rhythm going, Feed encourages participants to share their experiences with by posting a photograph on Facebook, Instagram or other social media with the hash tag #feedneedy. Feed intends on collaborating with similar initiatives across Chennai in the future with the hope of creating a larger and more effective impact.
The Robin Hood Army
The Robin Hood army was started by two enterprising individuals- Neel Ghose and Anand Sinha in Delhi in August 2014. From Delhi, the initiative has spread to a number of locations such as Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Jaipur-nationally and to Lahore and Karachi-internationally. The aim of the initiative is to eliminate hunger and food waste globally, with a slogan that mirrors the same –“Serve the Hungry Citizen”. RHA asks not for donations but the time of individual volunteers. This is mostly utilized to search for restaurants that are willing to contribute their additional food, inducting volunteers and mapping out areas that vulnerable people are situated. RHA seeks to leverage various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to reach out to an ever-increasing audience to fulfill its mission. During festivals such as Diwali 2014- the volunteers as well as believers of the RHA Model were encouraged to distribute not just food but also toys, clothes and other useful items to the less privileged. The Chennai Chapter began in March 2015 and gets together to distribute food a minimum of once a week. With the army growing exponentially, they continue to march forward and are destined to win the war against hunger!
Interested Volunteers and Restaurants can sign up on the website - http://robinhoodarmy.com/
For queries and suggestions, email at - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Food Bank
Harnessing her passion for donating food and her penchant towards social media, Sneha Mohandoss decided to give her life to her initiative, Food Bank Chennai. All she needed was a creative idea that was actually effective mainly due to its simplicity. What would be the first step? Reaching out to people by simply creating a Facebook page. It was a platform for people from all walks of life to effectively donate food. After a person joins the page, they are added to a Whatsapp group based on which locality they were from. Currently, there are groups for Anna Nagar, Kilpauk, T.nagar, Royapettah, OMR, Egmore, Saidapet, West Mamabalam, Besant Nagar and Marina. The unique quality of Food Bank is that the food donated is home cooked just for the cause. The people in the group can either volunteer to help out in the distribution, or simply participate in providing home cooked meals. Depending on which group they are a part of, the members assemble on a particular day of the week, at a well-known spot in the area (for example, the Anna Nagar group meets at Tower Park at 7pm on Thursdays) and collect the food packets. The volunteers then go on to distribute these food packets to homeless people in or around those areas.
This initiative has close to 4000 members on Facebook in just two months and is to become an official NGO in a few weeks. To join or find out more about Food Bank Chennai, you can log on to their Facebook page.
The original goal with which these three initiatives were started was to make food donation a regular affair. A more primitive way was to do it on special occasions such as a birthday. As it often involved going to some place and spending a significant amount of time in the act, it was often felt as an obligation. By making it easier for an individual to contribute to the social development of their city, charity becomes neither an obligation nor an inconvenience, but rather a joy while keeping the bigger picture in mind.
This Article is part of Agam Sei Volume: 01 Issue: 12.
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