‘Food Banking’ for the foodless

Toriqul Islam | Update:

Children are photographed with volunteers of the ‘Food Banking’ after receiving foods. Photo: CollectedWaste food will not be wasted anymore!

A group of volunteers in the capital city is just a phone call away to help you out manage the wastage.

And they used to collect surplus food and distribute it to the foodless free of cost.

Do you have any leftover of your grandiose birthday or wedding parties? Just make a phone call to a volunteer of 'Food Banking', instead of throwing all that untouched good food into the garbage bins.

The volunteers will help you so that these remainders could, instead, hit the stomachs of the foodless who are destined to go to the bed tonight on an empty stomach, without a slice of bread or a handful of rice.

"We had a surplus food of more than 100 persons in my wedding programme held in May this year," Rafida, whose wedding was held in the Mirpur DOHS, told this reporter. She added, they then called up the volunteers as they got to know about the ‘Food Banking’ earlier through Facebook, and donated the entire food. "We felt relieved that it was consumed by people."

Volunteers (behind the children) of the ‘Food Banking’ preparing leftover to distribute among the foodless people. Photo: Collected‘Food Banking’, an initiative of Prochesta Foundation in Dhaka, is working to give a meaning to your waste food. The local ‘Food Banking’, which aims to end hunger in the country, mainly collects the food from the wedding or birthday parties upon receiving a phone call.

In Dhaka as a city of nearly 20 million people, thousands of kilos of food are being thrown into waste bins every day. And hundreds, especially the street people, pass their nights without even a little quantity of food.

Bangladeshis waste as high as 5.5% of the total procured food, according to a Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) study in 2017. It found that a major portion of the processed food is being scraped off the plates directly into the waste bins.

We once heard of food falling short at wedding ceremony due to ‘fake’ guests who slip in, or miscalculations by the hosts of ‘baburchi’. But in recent times, surplus is common in view of availability of foods and health conscioiusness of people. When there is inclement weather, number of guests fall and the organisers of programmes see a huge foods remain unconsumed.

The Food Banking, which began in 2016, has engaged more than 100 volunteers so far to work to check the wastage of food in Dhaka city.

It was 19 May 2016, said Ikram Uddin Abir, founding president of the Food Banking initiative, added that one of his senior colleagues, Arif, made him a call requesting a mobile phone number.

A beneficiary smiles after receiving foods from volunteers of the ‘Food Banking’. Photo: CollectedAbir said, “He (Arif) then just told me he has a fantastic idea regarding waste food management and would tell me the details later. I gave him a number. Minutes after, he (Arif) posted a status on Facebook along with the number and the rest is history. He requested the Facebook users not to waste food anymore and make a call to the certain number before dumping it to any litter bin.”

Abir added that the first Facebook status earned more than 25 thousand likes in a short time and was much appreciated.

Following the Facebook post, Abir said, “We received the very first call on 19 May evening. A man from the city’s Khilgaon made the call and told us that they have food for nearly 100 persons, left over from a wedding party. The prompt feedback made us a mum for a while. It seemed a big challenge for us to prepare within a short time to respond to such an enormous job. Finally, we agreed to the terms and conditions of the very first donor. We began the journey without thinking much.”

“In that night we just bought two kilogrammes of polybags, rented a CNG and went to the Khilgaon wedding venue to collect the food. Finally, we managed to distribute the food to the street people in the Malibagh area of the city that night.”Children bust into cheers after receiving foods from volunteers of the ‘Food Banking’. Photo: Collected

Aparajita Sangita, one of the leaders of the 'Food Banking' initiative, said it is 2018. In the two and have years, the volunteers aged between 20 and 25 responded to 250 calls and served 150,000 starving people in the city.

“Of them, nearly 40 are female volunteers. But, it’s a bit more difficult for our female volunteers,” she added.

The irony is neither the donors nor the beneficiary appreciates the activities, Abir said adding that the donors think that they have been relieved of a ‘disturbing’ work while the beneficiary assume it’s taken for granted.

About the initiative, Jagadish Chandra Roy, director of the Prochesta Foundation in Dhaka, said, “We have an elaborate plan in future. We are now planning to create awareness at the personal and family levels. In near future, we will bring the apartment buildings and the flats under our Food Banking net. If any family wants to donate waste food, our volunteer in the particular area will immediately collect the food and distribute in the area.”

The Food Banking president said it is not always easy for the volunteers, when they have to move at the night.

The volunteers had been robbed off their mobile phones several times when they went to collect foods.

“The volunteers have also experienced harassment by the law enforcement at night,” he added.

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