In a private engineering college in Asansol town of West Bengal, a sizeable amount of canteen food used to get wasted. While the students of the college were throwing away excess food, children were sitting outside the college premises who hadn’t eaten in weeks. “Such a scenario left a daunting impression on me, and I decided to bring about change,” said one of the teachers of the college, Mr Chandra Sekhar Kundu.
The 39-year-old computer science teacher, along with few of his colleagues and students, has started the initiative of collecting excess food from canteens of schools, colleges, and restaurants and distributing to underprivileged kids and senior citizens who are unable to work. Starting from October 2016, his NGO FEED (Food Education & Economic Development) is providing food to at least 40 people regularly four days a week.
With a team of 12 people, every day the NGO collects food from the eateries and canteens in the town that willingly give away the excess food for free. To create awareness about food wastage, they have also made a short film, called “Save Food, Save Life”.
Speaking to The Logical Indian Kundu said, “Since I was too concerned about the wastage of food, I sent an RTI to the Food Corporation of India (FCI). They replied that around 23,000 metric tonnes of food grain gone had gone bad over the past two years in the FCI warehouses across the country. This is happening in our country where 19.5 crore people are undernourished,”.
He further said, “Owing to such appalling figures; I had written a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee in June last year to take necessary measures. A petition was then forwarded to the FCI, who informed that that six measures — including regular online monitoring — had been taken to reduce the wastage of food grains. However, they could not do anything about the wastage of prepared food.”
This motivated Mr Kundu to do something on his own. His noble initiative was supported by his colleagues Abhijit Debnath, Dr Apurba Chatterjee, Sujoy Das Mahapatra, Amitava Chakraborty. His students Ayan Mukherjee, Zinia Basu, Surya Sekhar Ganguly also came to help him. The team has built a good rapport with the owners of eateries who are supporting the cause of serving the needy. They have rented an auto-rickshaw, which collects the food and delivers it to different places around the town.
Food Education and Economic Development (FEED)
Chandra Sekhar’s continuous effort now took the shape of an organization called Food Education and Economic Development (FEED) in 2016 that aimed at collecting and distributing excess food for those who slept with a hungry stomach. Along with a group of 135 students, he has now created a proper method of checking, collecting and distributing good quality excess food to the impoverished from several offices, canteens, hostels, and barracks of the police and CISF.
FEED is also a partner of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations under FAO’s ‘Save Food’ initiative. This platform is used by them to accumulate ideas from different countries and practising the same. Students are the preferred volunteers, and they are inspired to raise funds. “We have also organised training programmes of food tasting for our volunteers, where chefs from different restaurants train them,” said Chandra Sekhar.
“I had written to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to get some idea of how to go about this initiative. UN wrote back to me making me a partner of their Save Food Initiative. Today, I have been getting support from people around the world who have been motivating me to move forward,” Kundu said.
The NGO has now been able to penetrate its reach to the state capital as well. After tieing up with a company based in Kolkata, Bengal Save Food And Save Life Brigade is now regularly providing food to around 40 people, including children and elderlies, under the Gariahat flyover. “Even Ola Cabs have also approached us to help us in delivering food.”
The ‘Save Food Save Life’ app
Chandra Sekhar and his student Ritorshi Chattaraj have come up with a unique concept of an app that will support their initiative. “The ‘Save Food Save Life’ Android app will be available for download on the Android Play Store. Once an account is created, users will be able to locate on Google map the places where FEED is actively donating food. Users will be able to donate food, set up a new location for food donation and discuss other ways in which they would like to assist FEED. This app will take the initiative of FEED a step ahead,” said Ritorshi, in conversation with The Logical Indian.
Mr Kundu believes that taking such small initiatives across the country would help India fight the problem of undernourishment and everyone should come up to support efforts like these. You can reach out to FEED and help them help more people in other places of Bengal too. They can be reached at 9647627616 or 9434226403.
The Logical Indian salutes Mr Kundu and his team for taking up such a noble initiative.