When Padmanaban, a social entrepreneur met school students to spread awareness about global warming, little did he realise then that an idea from one of the children would change the life of hundreds in Tamil Nadu.
About two-and-a-half-years ago, the 25-year-old started a non-profit organization, “No Food Waste” in Coimbatore which collects food from weddings and parties to distribute to the poor and hungry.
With a mission to eradicate hunger, Balaji, Managing Trustee, No Food Waste explained, “We waste an average of 40% of food after it is cooked. So, our main aim is to eradicate hunger.”
Today, the organisation distributes food to 300 - 400 people in Coimbatore every day. “We have identified about 100 locations in Coimbatore which includes orphanages, slums etc.,” said Balaji, Managing Trustee, No Food Waste.
With the help of a helpline, the non-profit takes calls from those who would have otherwise had to throwaway fresh food and then distributes it to the nearest location. In addition, Balaji says that a catering service provides 100 food packages to them to distribute monthly.
In order to maintain food quality, Balaji said, “We try to distribute the food within half an hour after we collect the food. We also check the quality of food by tasting it. We never accept leftover food, only untouched food.”
Since its launch, No Food Waste has expanded its footprint to Chennai, Salem, Pollachi, Erode, Delhi, Tadepalligudem, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad and will soon be in Trichy, Madurai and Tirunelveli. With a pick-up percentage of 96%, the organisation has fed over 1.82 lakh people and counting.
But their mission to eradicate hunger has not been easy. Despite getting calls for 1000 food packages in Chennai, the Managing Trustee, laments that they are unable to collect half the packages due to traffic and the time taken to commute between places.
The organisation has also installed “Food and Beverage ATMs” near restaurants. “We have four such refrigerators, two in both Coimbatore and Salem, it is placed near restaurants. People can donate food there, the poor and needy can come and get food from these ATMs. It can serve 30 people a day,” said Balaji.