Bangalore Food Bank Providing a Sustainable Solution to Hunger and Food Waste

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One in nine people on earth is currently under-nourished, an estimated 795 million people. India itself is home to the largest under-nourished and hungry population, with 190.7 million people going hungry every day. The nutrition of children is particularly worse because of the state of their mothers. 36 percent of Indian women are chronically under-nourished. To prevent hunger, a child needs to be taken care of the most during the first 1,000 days of its life, from pregnancy to age two. Proper diet during this period can protect children from mental and physical stunting that can result from malnutrition. Another irony to this complex situation is that there is no shortage of food in the world. If the total world food supplies are divided equally, there will be plenty for everyone, with some to spare;in fact, today, the world produces 10 percent more food than is needed to feed everyone. But 30 to 50 percent of 1.2-2 billion tonnes of food produced around the world never makes it to a plate, and gets wasted.

Meher Dasondi

Seeing the dire need to feed the hungry and nourish the undernourished, as well as prevent food wastage, India Food Banking Network is establishing a strong and efficient network of food banks throughout the country. Food Banks are therefore one of the most sustainable ways of reaching food to those who need it. Archana Sinha met up with Meher Dasondi, Director Operations, Bangalore Food Bank to hear more about the work undertaken by the organisation.

How was Bangalore Food Bank initiated?

The Bangalore Food Bank was initiated in October 2014, under the chairmanship of Mr. Shyam Mohan, Ex-MD and President of Griffith Foods for India and the Middle East. Griffith Foods is a Chicago-based food innovation and new product development company.

Mr. Shyam Mohan is President of his own Tier 1 Network Company, and is the Director – Feeding Bangalore Foundation. The Foundation is a non profit organisation registered under Section 7 of the Companies Act 2013. It acts as a facilitator and intermediary service to distribute food between those who might have surplus or that which might be wasted due to any reason, and those who need it to survive.

What is the rough estimate of hungry people in Bangalore city alone? How do you distribute food?

Bangalore has a population of over 10 million. Officially, 16 percent of this population live in the city’s 597 plus slums while 50 percent of Bengaluru’s population live in single rooms.

“We serve 60 community owned agencies (NGOs) in Bengaluru. They include homes for the abandoned, special needs persons, homes for the aged, homes for street children, schools for children of parents with low income, homes for children of migrant labourers, and any agency that serves the poor and needy”

The world produces enough food to adequately nourish everyone. However, a lot of what is grown, produced, processed, manufactured, is not consumed due to various reasons such as poor harvest, post-harvest loss, poor distribution system, product disposal due to expiration, over production, damage, marketing, and other business decisions. It could be due to inadequate tax creatives, or even poor coordination amongst the government, public and private sectors.

The central goal of the food bank at Feeding Bangalore Foundation is to source and salvage food in the form of grains, oils, pulses, spices, or any food product that has considerable shelf stable life and make this available to those who struggle to make ends meet, by delivering it directly.

At Feeding Bangalore Foundation, we serve 60 community-owned agencies (NGOs) in Bengaluru. They include homes for the abandoned, special needs persons, homes for the aged, homes for street children, schools for children of parents with low income, homes for children of migrant labourers, and any agency that serves the poor and needy. Our feeding partners comprise of more than 15,000 persons, both as groups and as individuals.

“Our vision is to see that less food is wasted and more make it to those in need of it. When we, as a community join hands, we can lead to a mutually rewarding relationship. Our efforts together can address the issues of hunger. Our appeal to all is to partner with us to create an environment that secures food for the needy and witness this gesture transforming lives”

How did you get involved with an activity like feeding the hungry?

When we have the means and the ability to do, we also have a responsibility towards those who do not. For this, we have strategically worked out a plan and worked hard as well to strategically reach food to those who need it. We are committed towards zero world hunger and are supported in our efforts through the CSR opportunities of various corporate organisations that provide us with food support. Our vision is to see that less food is wasted and more make it to those in need of it. When we, as a community join hands, we can lead to a mutually rewarding relationship. Our efforts together can address the issues of hunger. Our appeal to all is to partner with us to create an environment that secures food for the needy and witness this gesture transforming lives.

Thanks to the efforts of our benefactor donors, Bangalore Food Bank has received 12,20,843 kilograms of products in 2017 alone. Through this, we were able to make 7,51,304 feeds to our feeding partners.

Today, we are compliant with the necessary government processes and have a CIN, PAN and a GST number. We are in the process of acquiring FCRA-compliance too. The food bank in Bangalore is registered as Feeding Bangalore Foundation.

How is food banking a better idea than feeding people in temples, Devastanas, and charity feeding?

Basically, any kind of feeding to the poor and needy is welcome. It is one of the best deeds we can do. But that cannot be done on a sustainable basis. Food banking is acknowledged the world over as an innovative and technology-driven initiative to alleviate the woes of malnutrition. It is the recognised way forward adopted by most countries to work towards zero hunger programme. It is a replicable delivery system to strengthen the mission of eliminating hunger once and for all. It is a concentrated effort to break the vicious cycle of poverty.

Are there other supporters too?

The Foundation is graciously supported by Mr Sanjay Thirumalai – Managing Director, Grant Thornton Bengaluru, who is also one of the Directors, and by Mr. Jayaram Srinivasan – Founder and Partner, Frontal Rain Technologies. Mr. Srinivasan is a shareholder with Feeding Bangalore Foundation. We have pro-bono legal support by J Sagar & Associates. Madhura Chattrapathy, ex-District Governor, Rotarian, entrepreneur and Director for Asian Centre for Entrepreneurial Initiatives is our benefactor. M.K. Panduranga Setty, a well-known entrepreneur and educationist from Bengaluru, is also a member of our advisory team.

Bangalore Food Bank receives constant guidance from the Global Food Banking Network Chicago. GFN is the parent body of food banks in over 40 countries across the globe, and we at Bangalore Food Bank are proud to be associated and guided by their offices. We share advisory support with the India Food Banking Network Delhi.

How do you ensure continuous support?

Nobody can ensure perennial support. We can only appeal for sustained support. We receive generous support from our donors, both individuals and corporate organisations like Griffith Foods, Grant Thornton, Britannia Industries Ltd, Kellogg’s, Hindustan Unilever, Neo Foods, Sodexo and Bank of America, Nestle, Himalaya Wellness, KFC, Zenith Foods, Reliance Fresh, and Food World Bengaluru, apart from hotels and restaurants. They support us well, and through this, they get a chance to channelise food to those who need it.

“Food banks feed people, strengthen communities and protect the environment. That is the power of food banking”

Restaurant and hospitality organisations help NGOs by supporting their pantries with sustainable and fixed kitchen provision donations every month. We only receive dry shelf stable food grains that are uncooked. This can be made available to us through food drive collections by staff support or through CSR support of the organisation itself. They donate in the form of rice lentils, pulses, grains, oils, or any such dry shelf stable provision that will help them with their kitchen expenses.

Food retail shops donate ‘unsellable but perfectly consumable’ fresh produce in the form of vegetables and fruits which would otherwise be discarded. This produce is sorted and gratefully received by our feeding partner NGOs and several kitchens.

In this way, many of their residents are served and fed. Food banks rescue food before it is wasted, in order to redirect it to those in need. Food banks thus provide a sustainable answer to the dual problems of hunger and food waste. In fact, we appeal to all these industries, even superstores, to contact us so that we can direct the nearest NGO partners to them and help them redistribute their excess food to these kitchens.

The power of food banking lies herein: They feed people, strengthen communities and protect the environment.

Food banks help organisations extend the supply chain past the end of the commercial line into an effective distribution through a philanthropic line. They help Corporates see that their product continues to be used for its intended purpose – feeding people, rather than being discarded, even though the commercial value, which is the opportunity for profit, may cease to be viable at some point further up the chain.

Non-food corporate organisations can support with food drives and involve staff to be part of this ‘giving back to the community’. Bangalore Food Bank will be happy to do a presentation with the staff and to provide all the support and encouragement to the food drive. Organisations can extend their supply chain and channelise ‘soon to expire’ products to the food bank for distribution to the NGOs. We do not accept expired food products.

In addition to the above, any food store, retail shop, distributer, retailer, vendor or company, can support our efforts in ways such as:

  • Identify those products that are or will soon become unmarketable, but are still fit for human consumption.
  • Establish internal protocols with Feeding Bangalore Foundation to offer these products for donation.
  • Transfer these products to the food bank for re-distribution to those who need it.
  • Encourage your vendors and customers to support us through similar efforts.
  • Help us raise food product donations through food drives.
  • Financial support to procure food products.· Logistical support.
  • Executive sponsorship for the food bank.

“At a time when we live in a world that prides itself on power and wealth,millions go hungry everyday. It is our responsibility not only as a nation, but also as individuals, to getinvolved- Meher Dasondi”

Feeding Bangalore Foundation has its warehouse in Doddballapur, Bengaluru. We have been given warehouse space by the offices of Griffith Foods in their own LEED’s certified facility warehouse. We adhere to strict food safety and nutrition as per certification rules and standards. Our office is at Griffith House, Yellahanka.

Any organisation can share responsibility and support the Bangalore Food Bank. We can assure you of transparency in management. Anyone is welcome to visit any of our feeding partners, not just to see how their support is reaching people that truly require it, but to also share in the joy of caring and giving.

Giving back to society is in line with our rich Indian heritage. We have been doing it through the ages, in forms of clothes and food. We believe that with the joint support from within our local communities, the Bangalore Food Bank can help build a stronger and healthier society. Anyone can support the Bangalore Food Bank, be it an individual, a family, or a corporate organisation. All you need is a heart to share.

For a more comprehensive view of our initiative, do visit us at www.bangalorefoodbanking.org