There is an ancient saying in India that says “Annam Parabrahma Swaroopam” . It means that food is equal to god. But do we pay heed to this? Not at all. As a result, millions of our people are dying in hunger when tons of food is being thrown away, wasted, discarded; for no good reason most of the times.
Food wastage is a major problem in India. It is said that Indians waste as much food as the whole of UK consumes. And to top it off, India is home to the largest number of hungry people in the world, too. With the number of hungry people in India reaching 200 million (more than the population of France), there is a dire need to bridge the gap between the food providers and the poor and needy in our country.
When I was younger, I was always told to clean my plate before leaving the table. I was constantly reminded how there are many that go hungry everyday. Even today, I make sure to never waste food, but hundreds of thousands still go hungry. Surely someone must do something about it! Well, guess what? Someone already is.
A group of young Indians clad in green shirts venture out every night to salvage surplus food from restaurants, weddings, catered parties, etc. to serve to the poor and needy. They call themselves the Robin Hood Army (RHA in short) and they are here to liberate India of its massive hunger problem.
What started off as a group of six friends with a simple plan to feed the poor, has now expanded greatly to become an organization of 8,870 volunteers spread across 41 cities, that has served more than 2 million people already. Most of these volunteers are are working professionals aged between 23 and 30 years old. However, some of RHA’s most enthusiastic volunteers are 50-year-olds.
The goal of this organization is simple– reduce wastage, reduce hunger. Their motto is “take from the restaurants which have plenty and and give to the poor who have little.” according to fearless co-leader of RHA, Anand Sinha. He and his colleague and friend, Neel, began this organization after being inspired by Hunter Halder, the founder of Refood who does the same in Portugal. The idea behind RHA revolves around decentralisation. Small teams of young professionals scout for local restaurants to convince them to donate surplus food and identify clusters of people in need of the food. Such distributions is arrayed at the homeless and orphanages where they carry out weekly distributions. The team has distributed everything from biryani and dal to sweet treats like cakes, brownies and biscuits. In Delhi alone, some 30 restaurants have been involved with the project, sometimes not only offering leftover food but cooking fresh meals for distribution.
While most of their activities are related to food, RHA also takes up different projects from time to time. For instance, the team in Delhi distributed blankets, bedding and warm clothing to the poor in the winter of 2014, saving many lives that could have perished due to the cold. RHA also works with caterers of weddings and events to ensure that the large amounts of uneaten food would be picked up, no matter how late at night. In 2012, up to 10,000 were fed solely on leftovers from only about 16 weddings held on Akshaya Tritiya, a day considered auspicious for Hindus to tie the knot.
Having achieved so much already, they are now looking to set up hyper-local community chapters across the world. They wish to be a global phenomenon in hunger alleviation and education in the coming future.
Well, Stop Commotion, offers them full support. Spread the word, and feed the hungry.
RHA is purely a volunteer based organization, so if you’re looking to volunteer in one of their local chapters, or if you’re a restaurant wanting to contribute to this noble cause, hit them up on their Facebook page or their website. They are constantly looking for help, so every hour you can give them is valuable.
Thank you for making the world a much better place, Robin Hood Army.