IMAGINE feeding around 5,000 poor people every month while preventing over 12,000 kilos of excess food from reaching landfills. These are some of the statistics shared by Coimbatore-based NGO, No Food Waste, which launched in Chennai recently. Launched originally by Padmanabhan Gopalan and his team around two years ago, they recently acquired a MarutiOmni for their Chennai operations. Ever since the launch, monthly reports and audits have shown that over 56,000 people have been fed by them till now, with the quantity of food amounting to over 33,000 kilos. These impressive figures, coupled with effective word of mouth, helped them bag The Visionary Award by The Pollination Project in California, that offers a grant of $1,000 to a promising social startup anywhere in the world. Other winners of the same from the state include city-based Santhi Reddy and Rajendran Reddy, founders of Nalantha — a food distribution group for senior citizens in old age homes, and Coimbatore-based Poornima B Joshi of Green Thumb, a waste management company that converts waste into biogas and gasifier fuel.
All in a day
Gopalan asserts that they only collect food that has not been touched. “We are all aware of the amount of food that is not consumed on occasions like marriages and parties. Why not create a network where the excess food can be channelled to those who need it more than us,” he says. When they receive a pick-up request, they head there with their vessels in the van, assess the quality of the food and distribute it to
areas marked by them as ‘hunger spots’. “Last month we fed around 7,970 people in Coimbatore,” reveals Gopalan.
The group has also developed an app that not only enables pick-up requests but also invites people to identify the hunger spots, like slums, orphanages and hospitals and notify the organisation through the app. “Once we get the address of the place we verify the details of the need and upload the coordinates on our app for future reference and for the benefit of those who wish to see where we have distributed food,” says Gopalan, adding that the app also shows a list of other charity groups nearby the user’s location that helps with the same initiative. “If they wish they themselves can deliver their excess food to the charity groups, instead of waiting for us to arrive,” he advises.
App available for free on Android. Details: nofoodwaste.in; 9087790877
— Karan Pillai