Collecting food for the needy

Collecting food for the needy

Helping hand

Collecting food for the needy

It is common for one to waste food, even as a large section of the population goes hungry.

In the City, to ensure that food does not get wasted, the concept of food banking system has come up. It is being seen as a new and easy way to help those in need. Food banking is a concept tha originated in the West, wherein charitable organisations distribute food to those who don’t have access to it like homeless people and the under-privileged.

The food comprises of mainly non-perishable items, donated by families, businesses and other organisations. While the food bank is still in its nascent stage, there is a huge potential of growth which is expected. “Food banking is a new concept in this country but with the help of technology and involvement of communities from the private sector, government and NGOs, we can feed the needy. It’s an effort to bring together people to fight hunger. Food bank will grow to be a powerful platform,” says Meher Dasondi from ‘Bangalore Food Bank’ (BFB).

There are a few food bank organisations which hope to initiate a food mission to collect excess food and re-distribute it to those who need it. It is a simple process where a donor who wants to offer food will contact charitable organisations and people from the organisation are sent to pick up the products.

Food bank organisations also provide support in terms of kitchen facilities and grocery items by redistributing the food collected. The donors vary from corporate contributions to food suppliers, and even individuals who want to help fight against hunger.

“Some individuals contribute on occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, and companies through Corporate Social Responsibility programmes. Due to constraints like lack of storage, we can only accept dry ambient food in the form of grains, pulses, oil and spices that have a shelf life and which can be stored. We would need a warehouse with cold storage requirements or a food truck with temperature control for other items,” adds Meher.

The biggest challenge faced by food bank organisations is not being able to serve cooked and pre-cooked food immediately. “We have a lot of donors who offer food but do not have a storage system to preserve them. We also notice that there is a lot of wastage of pre-cooked food, which can be utilised effectively to feed the poor if only we had proper technological advancement, better network and connectivity,” says Sumathi from ‘RK Foundation’.

To strengthen this system, schools and colleges too have joined hands. Students from St Jospeh’s College of Arts and Science organised a ‘Bread Basket’ initiative, where they attempted to raise awareness about the food bank system.

“We conducted a survey within the college premises and found out that only two per cent of students knew about the concept. This drove us to launch a campaign to create awareness among students to reduce wastage of food. Our objective was to organise a ‘Food Raiser’ against junk food and food wastage. A promotion strategy was put into action and food-drop boxes were placed in the campus for contributions of non-perishable food items,” says Stephy Alex, organiser of the campaign.  

Indrajit Roy, another organiser of the campaign, says, “Within 12 days of the campaign, we received over 200 kilograms of food which included biscuits, ‘atta’, rice and grains, which was later donated to the needy. We were very happy to receive such an overwhelming response from the students.”

The food banking networks are seen as a good initiative to bridge the gap between the government, NGOs and private sector.

“We need to integrate the donors and seekers of food. Each community must take an active role in feeding its hungry population,” sums up Sumathi.

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