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6 Food Startups Waging The War On Kitchen Waste & Food Wastage

It is a known fact that poverty, hunger and malnutrition are rampant in our country. While people can rain money on lavish weddings and enough kitchen waste is generated, desperation in the destitute for one meal in a day, is a very real truth. With a Global Hunger Index of 28.5, India ranks worse than Uganda, Rwanda and several others in hunger and malnutrition.

Food wastage has turned into a pressing issue for our country but thanks to these initiatives, food wastage has now turned to a life-giving process; providing nourishment to the needy. Here’s a look at some of the innovative ideas that are changing the country for good.

Robin Hood Army

All it took was a business trip to Portugal to build the idea for this innovative start-up. On a business trip to Portugal, Neel Ghose, Vice President, International Affairs, Zomato, came across an NGO, Re Food, that collected leftover food and fed it to the less privileged. He volunteered for the organisation which inspired him to start a similar charitable trust back home.

The Robin Hood Army (RHA), has achieved a very innovative way of reducing food wastage by collecting the surplus food and kitchen waste from the local restaurants to the underprivileged. The organisation does not accept monetary funds but recruits volunteers on a day to day basis. With its tie-ups with 17 restaurants, the Robin Hood Army works on their goodwill to promote its cause.

What once started as a small organisation in Delhi, soon spread to other parts of the country as well. Right from night shelters to the homeless orphanages, this organisation has been a guardian angel to all. Spread over 23 cities and a volunteer brigade of 5,000 noble people, this organisation has successfully fed over 5,00,000 people so far.

Explore more here.

Feeding India

While most people wouldn’t give a second thought on the food left over at weddings, here was a man who decided to put an end to the food wastage after attending a grand wedding catering to 10,000 guests and a menu consisting of over 35 different cuisines. Ankit Kawatra probably made the most important decision of his life that night when he saw the food hit the bin which could have fed at least 5,000 people, after deciding to stay back at the wedding. At 22, he set off to create a difference in this world when he quit his well-paying job at an MNC to pursue something that he truly believed in – put an end to the wastage of food and turn it into a life-saving avenue.

Feeding India, a non-profit enterprise, came up with an easy solution to use the enormous amount of food wasted on different occasions and feed it to the less fortunate. It collects the extra food from weddings, caterers and restaurants and provides it to the underprivileged class in the society. In order to check the quality of food, it has a team of experts who check the food before putting it out for the benefit of the poor.

Feeding India receives about a 1,000 calls daily on their helpline that runs 24/7. The collection of excess food and kitchen waste is done by volunteers who store the food in cold storages in order to maintain the nutritious value and then it undergoes three rigorous levels of quality checking before distributing it to the needy.

Starting with a team of 5 members in Delhi, Feeding India has now more than 2200 volunteers from different fields like marketing, consultation, etc. To date, it has spread over 32 cities and has tie-ups with 75+ caterers and 20+ NGOs, providing over 13,00,000 meals and relentlessly encouraging people not to waste their food.

Explore more here.

Jevandabbe Vahatuk Mahamandal  (Mumbai Dabbawalas)

The dabbawalas started their service way back in 1890s during the time of the British Raj when junk food was not in vogue and office canteens had not been introduced. Tukaram V. Gadade came up with a solution to tackling the noon time hunger pangs for the office workers,  home cooked lunch in tiffin boxes! Delivered for 12 annas per box, the dabba system soon became an integral part of Mumbai’s work culture. But the dabbawalas have now come up with a solution to curb the wastage of food in weddings.

Jevandabbe Vahatuk Mahamandal, the biggest community of dabbawalas in Mumbai have collaborated with 30 wedding planners and caterers and have started two helpline numbers for these restaurants and caterers to call and arrange for the dabbawalas to pick up the leftover food which would then be distributed amongst the homeless and the slum dwellers.

With 400 dabbawalas working round the clock and their 24-hour helpline, the Roti Bank initiative is sure to be a success. As per the initiative, the leftovers at birthday parties and kitchen waste restaurants will be collected by the dabbawalas and fed to the city’s pavement dwellers. The dabbawalas are now planning to station a member at every local station so that people can hand over their leftover food even when the quantity is less.

No Food Waste

Started by Padmanaban Gopalan and his friends Sudhakar and Dinesh, this organisation  collects the leftovers and kitchen waste from weddings and occasions and feed it to the needy in Coimbatore.

With $1000 grant from the NGO Pollination Project and a prestigious post of the being the best initiative,  this organisation has been working hard to achieve it’s objective with its hotline and a collecting minivan. The operation hour being 9 am in the morning extending to 10 pm at night.

The organisation has now taken up the initiative to expand in 5 cities and serve an average of 200 people per day. With 5,600 meals served so far, the organisation aims to serve 5,000 people per month.

So these are our heroes who work for gruelling hours day in and day out just to fulfil their objective of paving the way for a better India.

Explore more here.

RAW Pressery

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Photo Courtesy Of: Raw Pressery

Who knew that a little kitchen waste experiment would turn into a big business changing the way the world looks at a simple bottle of juice? It all started in the summer of 2013 in Anuj’s kitchen. With a team of experts and nutritionists roped in to make a healthy and tasty product resulting in RAW Pressery.

Apart from its tie-ups with local farmers to sell the fruit and vegetable waste to them at economic rates to be used as manure, RAW Pressery also plans to make chips out of beetroot and carrot residue and they have also garnered volumes of 1,00,000 bottles per month to make edible items out of its fruits and vegetable waste.

The first juice was delivered to doorsteps in Mumbai and now it has consumers of around 25,000 and sells around 1 lakh bottles per month priced between INR 80 – INR 250.

Explore more here.

Waste Ventures

This organisation was founded by Parag Gupta in 2011. Being a social entrepreneur, he worked hard on pulling out a solution to public policy issues when he realised the urgency and importance of solid waste management – an idea that led him to the creation of Waste Venture.

Waste Venture has an efficient way of handling household waste and food that goes to waste. It collects waste directly from households who pay a monthly fee. By processing the waste through anaerobic composting, the recyclable materials are separated and recovered. 30 tonnes of organic waste are turned to compost thus avoiding 146 tonnes of CO2 paving the way for a cleaner environment.

Started in Hyderabad, this is the city’s first total waste solution that covers organic waste and other recyclables. Now it is working towards in expanding in tier 2 and tier 3 cities in the country.

Explore more here.

Read more about what you can do about food waste and reducing it.

Featured Photo Courtesy Of: Robin Hood Army

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Born and brought up in Calcutta, Shibangsh Chowdhury is currently pursuing B.Tech, CSE in Bangalore. He is a big foodie at heart, and loves to try out new and exotic dishes. Reading thrillers, writing about food and life and gaming are his other favourite past times.