Now, a food bank to feed the hungry

Now, a food bank to feed the hungry
A one-of-a-kind food bank in Frazer Town, east Bengaluru, is feeding around 200 poor people every day. Al-Aman Educational and Welfare Trust, an NGO, collects leftovers from restaurants, parties, corporate and government functions, marriages and households, and distributes them to the poor. The idea of opening the food bank struck the nonprofit when it realised that hundreds of people in Bengaluru struggle to get even a square meal a day while large amounts of food is wasted elsewhere.

Mohammed Farooq, a hotelier and founder chairman of the nonprofit, recalled an incident that happened a few months ago. “We had organised a medical camp in a slum in DJ Halli. Doctors who examined the people said most of the women and children are weak and have health problems as they do not get nutritious food. These people live in poverty and cannot afford three square meals a day,” he told DH. He continued, “I realised that my hotel staff dump the leftovers. I decided that the food should be distributed to the poor. We set up the food bank on Mosque Road since it has around 35 restaurants.”

The nonprofit then started spreading the word about the food bank. The response was encouraging. “Organisers of parties, marriages and other ceremonies as well as hoteliers inform us about the leftovers. Our volunteers go there and collect them. If it’s a far-off place, we ask them to pack the food and send it by auto-rickshaw and we’ll pay the transport charges.” The NGO’s volunteers then neatly pack the food and deposit it with the bank. The needy come and pick up the food. At times, when there is too much food, the volunteers take it to various slums and distribute it to people, he added.

The nonprofit also accepts cash donations from people, spends them on groceries and hires cooks to prepare the food. It distributes food to poor patients at the free dialysis unit of HBS Hospital on Cockburn Road, Shivajinagar. “We prefer vegetarian food but when we get non-veg fare, we check its quality before distributing it,” a volunteer said. Farooq takes satisfaction from the positive public response. “People have begun to realise that there are many who go to bed with an empty stomach. We are planning to open similar food banks across the city,” he said.

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