While we are hurtling towards urbanization, heaps of waste are growing even faster, causing a serious concern for the society. Food waste, specifically, has profound social and environmental implications, considering that about 195 million people in India do not have enough to eat. This translates into over 15 per cent of India’s population, exceeding China in both absolute numbers and proportion of malnourished people in the country’s population!
This is what compelled a computer science teacher in Asansol in West Bengal to take much-need steps to rein in food wastage. Founder of Food, Education & Economic Development (FEED), Chandra Sekhar Kundu and his team of students visit eateries around the campus regularly to collect food. The eateries give away excess food, which they would otherwise have thrown away.
He and some of his students have taken the initiative of collecting excess untouched food from hostel canteens, restaurants and cafeterias and are distributing them among under-privileged children and elderly people four times a week.
Once, while paying the bill for his meal at the college canteen, Chandra Sekhar Kundu (a teacher at Asansol Engineering College) noticed that a huge amount of was being wasted. Shocked by the sight, he enquired about it and was told that not only was food wastage a normal occurrence at the canteen, it was also much less compared to the hostels.
Finding the pervasive practice of wasting food sharply at odds with the number of people who need it, Kundu began convincing students not to take more food than they will actually eat. He also asked the canteen owners to take steps to minimise food wastage in the kitchens.
“We have the right to eat, not to waste. Also, while it is difficult to provide food to everybody, we can try to do something for as many people as we can.With this in mind, I launched my initiative Save Food Save Life in 2015 with the help of my students”, says Kundu.
Kundu and some of his students convinced the owners of the canteens, cafetarias, and nearby restaurants to donate excess uneaten food that would then be collected and distributed to under-privileged children and elderly people four times a week. The beneficiaries are mostly beggars and street dwellers. Other than setting up a Facebook page to spread the message, the team also shot three short films to highlight the food wastage taking place and steps that could be taken to minimise it.
Kundu also wrote to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to know how to go about his initiative. On October 21, 2016, the organisation made Kundu a partner in its Save Food programme. The programme does not offer monetary help but allows each partner to use its official logo on the letterhead of his or her organisation.
Determined to do more to combat food waste, Kundu believes that it is an exciting time for initiatives such as his as more and more people want to bridge gaps in society. With partnerships with university students across the country in the pipeline, he is now planning to expand into more areas of social welfare such as education and sanitation.
Asked if there is a message he would like to give to his fellow countrymen, the humble and hardworking teacher says, “Let’s not be embarrassed by our food waste. If we can all be honest about it, that means we have identified the problem, and now we can insert solutions to that.”
Want to get involved in this fight to end food waste and hunger? You can contact Chandra Shekhar Kundu on the number 9647627616.
First appeared on TheBetterIndia