It all started with a function at home when Arun Kumar decided to give away excess food to underprivileged people. This was thought to avoid food reaching trash. The little act of Arun has traveled with him for so long that he established the Chennai chapter of No Food Waste.
Birth of No Food Waste Chennai
No Food Waste is an initiative kickstarted in Coimbatore. Delighted and inspired by the pillars of No Food Waste Padmanaban Gopalan, Dinesh Manickam, and Sudhakar Mohan, Arun decided to launch the Chennai chapter to cater to the hungry souls each day. Back in 2018, Arun realizes how it was difficult to set things going by mapping needs with available resources.
The team initially began with one vehicle donated to handle its operations. A few other government agencies looped in observing the impact that the initiative created. Ms Amutha IAS was a driving force for this chapter. In due course, Arun decided to divide supplies into various zones and prepared hunger maps across these zones.
In a few months, about 5 vehicles were donated by various government agencies and private organizations to support operations. Meanwhile, the vehicles were already overloaded with foods fulfilling multiple requests, and the organization relied on dedicated volunteers. No Food Waste is also certified with FSSAI license. If you are thinking how, here you go with the protocol followed by the team.
- No Food Waste Chennai relies strongly on documentation.
- Right from the time excess food is reported through the helpline number (90877 90877), volunteers coordinate with the reporter and direct the vehicle. (Minimum of 50 plates of food)
- The driver along with volunteers arranges necessary utensils and the targeted audience to receive food is identified meanwhile.
- Meanwhile, the team reaches the place and assesses count along with the quality. This is instantly updated in records.
- The team takes due responsibility for the food quality and volunteers are well trained to record quality.
- Once the food is delivered to the underprivileged, the team once again records transactions and pictures to inform donors and wellwishers.
The team has grown to over 100 volunteers and donors ranged from individuals to corporates due to the mission of the organization.
Cancelled orders through Swiggy are also collected and routed to the hungry population each day by this team.
No Food Waste Chennai during COVID-19
What is so exceptional about this team is its extraordinary service during COVID-19. When the world entered a standstill stage, Arun and his team took a different turn. With the support of Ms. Amudha IAS since the inception, the team operated with over 5 vehicles and decided to fill hungry stomachs with quality food.
During the first few days, the team collected foods from various sources. Retailers like Saravana Stores and Reliance Market also supported by provisions. A few other retail giants provided groceries and contributed towards the cause in various instances! Due to the growing number of hungry stomachs, the team also purchase provisions and cook fresh meals each day.
Donors came in various forms but the team also spread awareness about food waste. Whenever underprivileged on the roads literally pleaded for food, Arun realized that there is a need to reduce food waste. This led to the introduction of the ‘zerowasteplate’ challenge where volunteers capture clean plates after their foods to highlight the importance of food. To rope in new donors, the team also came up with a campaign where each meal costs 20Rs.
In 100 days, the team has worked round the clock in preparing meals, diverting excess foods to underprivileged, providing groceries to those wanting them, and issuing essentials kit. To their shock, esteemed individuals also were in dire need of grocery and essentials kit due to personal situations.
We have collected and distributed 1.5 lakh meals before COVID. After COVID till date, we have filled 1 million stomachs!
That’s a humongous team effort, isn’t it? Imagine the background effort that was required to keep the team going with its relentless activities! 100+ volunteers kept the team going. This made us ask him if he has a field experience or has already managed a team. He gave us a different answer though.
Arun worked in the business development field but his thirst for the environment and social initiatives pushed him to explore an opportunity close to his heart so he has enough time to work for society as well. Quitting his day job, Arun began his new journey in the waste management field.
Handling entrepreneurial activities on one hand and philanthropic activities, on the other hand, Arun is certainly transforming into a trendsetter. The team makes it big each day and it is the dream that has kept everything going!
Next time when you eat, remember not to waste.
Next time when you eat, remember to share a plate with the underprivileged and end the hunger.
Do your bit and see how life transforms for you as well as the recipient! To do the least, join the No Food Waste team and be a part of the movement!