“The challenge is not a lack of food — it is making food consistently available to everyone who needs it.”

The amount of food we waste is equivalent to what is consumed by the population of the United Kingdom. The number of hungry people in India has increased by 65 million. In 2013, 20 crore Indians sleep hungry on any given night. About 7 million children died in 2012 because of hunger. the actual worth of money per year in India from food wastage is Rs. 58,000 crore.

NEEL GHOSE is one of the founder of Robin Hood Army, came across a similar concept during his stay in Lisbon, Portugal. He observed the workings of an organization called “Refood”, which has about 750 volunteers collecting food from various outlets, repacking and distributing them to the people who need it the most.

Neel felt that if the similar system will get implemented in India, it would greatly benefit many of the people and would also help in managing food wastage. Along with Anand Sinha, he founded the Robin Hood Army in August 2014. Today the Robin Hood Army has a team of five people, Neel Ghose, Anand Sinha, Apurv Mishra, Suvarna Mandal, and Aarushi Batra.

This team is supported by more than 1000 volunteers in almost 18 cities across India and Pakistan.this organization is teaching us that it’s never too late to embark on our missions. the Robin Hood Army proves that “now” is a great time. I have heard people tell me many times that they have always wanted to give back and do something for the society. People assume such activities will require a lot of money, will need them to sacrifice their careers, would need a functional office space with technology. Robin Hood Army functions without any of the above. All of them are in the army having their full-time careers.

The organization collects food, and sometimes other essentials, but never take donations.they do not have their own office. their volunteers coordinate and meet at a decided location and then the distribution process is getting progressed.

So how does this army work?

Let’s take Mumbai as an example. They all meet at 5:00 pm at the decided location. Volunteers pick up the food from the restaurants or food joints that fall in their route to their meeting place. Once they have all the food, depending on the quantity they decide where they should distribute the food. All the planning happens over phone calls and WhatsApp. Once they meet the distribution takes about 2 hours to 3hours approximately.

Robin Hood Army by now knows areas where there would be a requirement for food. Ex. – the Government hospitals, areas near flyovers, children and old age homes. They are also extremely particular about the food they receive. The food has to be healthy, nutritious and safe to eat. They make sure that they are not getting stale leftover food. But as more and more restaurants are getting to know what they are doing, this thing hardly creates an issue.

They also want to be a part of something like this and hence, ensure quality at their end. In fact, there are restaurants that even prepare meals separately for robin hood army to distribute. Even recently on international woman’s day, McDonald’s took a part in this work and they offered free food for 1million people through this army.

Robin Hood Army is a great example of how social media can be channeled to bring people together for a noble cause. The army is split into various chapters city wise. Chapter heads organize the collection and distribution in their regions.

To join this army, you simply have to go to their website and sign up as a volunteer. If you own a restaurant or a food joint and would like to contribute to this cause, you can register your restaurant on their website as well.

In fact, Robin Hood Army is now encouraging colleges to form groups and start a chapter in their own college.
The Robin Hood Army today feeds as many as 3 lakh people across two countries. The massive volunteer response that they get from various cities is simply because of the fact that people want to be a part of their mission. not only volunteers but restaurants are also proudly declaring their association with this Army by pasting green stickers in their facilities.

The impact of this army has gone beyond the food itself. During the recent Chennai floods, Robin Hood Army in Chennai came together to provide relief material for those affected. As winter sets in the Army are also working through the night. In cities like Pune and Delhi, they provide the homeless with essentials like blankets and warm clothes.

The Chennai chapter also had a “Toy Drive” this festive season to spread cheer among children. These are just a few examples of some of the amazing work they are doing. the whole organization runs on trust. In fact, the team has not met all the group heads, and yet they manage to work together so efficiently.

How does this work? “We believe in the best of human nature!“, comes the immediate response.
We step into a new year, let us all make minimizing food wastage a personal goal and “Go Green”. As the robin hood army is doing this generous work why don’t we also pledge to feed at least 1 person in a month? it just needs your time if you will join the army it will be only for a noble cause! This new year I am going to be the next ROBINHOOD but the question is ARE YOU??

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Snehal Mehta

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