Always worried about the wastage of food in your home or parties? What better way to utilise the food by feeding the poor? Mumbai Roti Bank, a food rescue wing by the Mumbai Dabbawalas, lets you donate your surplus food to the needy. Every night the organisation collects food from events, functions, and restaurants and distributes it in the nearby slums. The food is collected by the members of the Mumbai Dabbawallas Organisation. Started on December 29, 2015, the initiative is the brainchild of Former Director General of Police, Shri D Sivanandhan and Nitin Khanapur, a chartered accountant from London.
“We call Mumbai the richest city in the country. But the truth is the maximum city also has the maximum numbers of undernourished individuals. The one thing we observe is there are two faces to the city; on one side there is a huge wastage of food at parties, restaurants, and functions. While on the other side there are people who sleep on the footpaths empty stomach. So we decided to be the chain between them. Thus began the initiative by ferrying the left-over food by 3-5 people on a part-time basis in a few areas of the city,” says Subhash Talekar, Spokesperson of the Mumbai Dabbawallas Association. Within few days the initiative got a good response by having a dedicated vehicle for the initiative. “Today, Roti Bank distributes food to over 300 to 400 people on weekdays and 700 to 800 people on weekends. We receive around 20 to 25 calls daily and the food van ferries from Dadar to Colaba,” adds Talekar.
If you wish to donate food you can call on the Mumbai Roti Bank’s helpline number 86555 80001 and provide the location from where the excess food has to be picked up. You can also be a part of the initiative by becoming a volunteer.
Another initiative by the Dabbawalas Association is the ‘Kapda Bank’, which is active only during Diwali. The dabbawalas urge people to donate their old clothes in good condition. These clothes are later cleaned, ironed and gift wrapped and are donated to the adivasi families during Diwali. The biggest hurdle the initiative faces is the lack of storage space for the collected clothes. “We cannot afford to rent a space. But if anyone lends us space we would be happy to help throughout the year,” says Talekar.