Throw or give away:Restaurants in dilemma over leftoves

Restaurants have to dispose of unsold food at the end of the day. Voluntary groups are stepping in to help

This fridge at Byblos restaurant, Indiranagar, was among the first to be installed on Bengaluru streets.

A recent case of food poisoning has raised concerns about the safety of leftovers sent to schools and orphanages.

Leftovers from city restaurants are given away to charities or thrown away with the garbage. Some hand over the food to vendors who turn it into organic manure. The government has banned charities from accepting cooked food.

Meghana Foods, which specialises in biryanis, does not send leftovers anywhere. “We pack the food with the wet waste, and the morning garbage collectors take it away,” says Shivakumar, Manager, Meghana Foods. The restaurant, however, gives freshly prepared biryani to an NGO called the Robin Hood Army every weekend. Robin Hood Army is run by volunteers, and gets surplus food to reach less fortunate people.

Rotary Bangalore Brigades is another organisation trying to address the problem. It began setting up fridges by name 'The Rotary Fridge' outside restaurants three years ago. Leftover food is packed and stored in the fridges for the hungry to take away. “We tie up with restaurants and install refrigerators. This initiative is funded entirely by donors. Our main aim is to prevent wastage and help the needy,” says Vimla Pinto, former president, Rotary Bangalore Brigades.

Carrots restaurant in Koramangala runs a scheme called the Good Karma Meal. They neatly pack excess food and store it in a fridge installed by Rotary Bangalore Brigades.Hotel Sheraton Grand segregates leftovers and gives it away to be turned into organic manure. Gaurav Anand, executive chef, told Metrolfie vendors take care of the process.

“We keep a check on what we dispose of every day. We don’t give anything away as the leftovers might not be fit for human consumption,” he says. Divya Narayanappa, retired joint director, Department of Women and Child Development, says. “Government charities don’t accept cooked food from outside. We cook in-house or accept packed food items like biscuits, chocolates, and fruits.”

Rajendra Kulkarni from Manav Charities, Bengaluru, says charities are considered ‘trash cans’ by many. “People come and dump the excess food without even checking on its quality, “ he says. A volunteer in a well-known charity told Metrolife many children had been food poisoned five years ago after eating leftovers from a famous restaurant. Anil Shetty, president of Nav Bharat Democratic Party, feels an NGO must co-ordinate distribution of food collected from weddings, parties, and restaurants. “They must check the quality of food before it is given to charities. We are talking about thousands of lives here,” he says.

Want help with leftovers?
These organisations help.
* Robin Hood Army: info@robinhoodarmy.com
* Rotary Bangalore Brigades: 98840 21616, 98863 25094
* Manav Charities: 934235 80991

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