I've cribbed about food. Perfectly palatable food. I've judged it, poked fun at it and at times, wasted it. All because I could pay for the food and I wanted value for my money. Money. But money is not a basic need. Food is. Ironically, you need money to buy food, but food is a basic need.
A few weeks back, when driving with my friend Bhisham, he stopped by the side and asked me to help take a packet from the back seat. I obliged. He got out of his car, walked over and gave it to a kid on the street. The kid looked up at him, surprised. He came back, but I watched the kid. The kid's happiness had to be seen to be believed.
Food makes all of us happy, doesn't it? We celebrate with food. Banquets and parties are all about food. But food is a basic need. We've gone past it, so we may not appreciate it, but it is. For those who scramble food out of dustbins, a clean pack of food given by a stranger is a party. Something that can bring happiness.
As I probed Bhisham, I realised that he has a mini army of people and they go around doing this every Friday evening. EVERY Friday evening. They call themselves the Robin Hood Army. Apparently present in over 40 cities around the world, they don't make much noice. They don't take donations. They simply collect food and distribute it.
Their philosophy? Well, apparently 80% of the people who go hungry around the world are not in poor countries, but in countries where there is food surplus! And a whopping 33% of the cooked food is thrown away. 33%. Yes, one third. Suddenly there was a flood of emotions. All the food I've wasted came to mind. All the times I cribbed about food started to haunt me.
Was I going to not crib about food? I don't think so. Am I going to stop judging food? Nope. But I can do something about it. Maybe I will continue writing about Robin Hood Army every month with an update on how many people they've fed? Maybe every Friday, I will give excess food to RHA which I know will feed somebody hungry.
This Independence Day, they've taken up a huge challenge. To feed 1 lac people in Chennai. They are calling it the War on Hunger. I am going to help spread the word. And help get food from all my friends in the restaurant industry. You can help too. In any way you can. They don't accept money, though.
According to their post,
If you are an organization that would like to partner with us, you can contact Bhisham at +91 98849 85343.
If you would like to donate food/beverages, raw material you can contact Bushan at 9790997354.
If you would like to volunteer, you can contact Avinash at +91 90941 04191.
For any other queries you can contact Archit at 9840532143 and if your the shy types write to us at email@example.com.
Alternatively you can also go out on your own and distribute food, and tag your city and #Mission1Million and post on social media or call any of the above numbers and let them know how many people you served
And these guys have got some big names in the industry supporting them. Oriental cuisines, Winner's Bakery, Sandesh's restaurant group are among the few who give away food for the hungry to be fed. They've been doing it quietly. Let's make them also famous.