The Better India

Run for Rotis: Mumbai’s Iconic Dabbawalas Participate in Marathon to Feed the Needy



Marathons have become the new buzzword – with everyone doing it. Sunday’s are usually dedicated to it, and dinner table conversations have become about run timings. On the third Sunday of January each year, thousands of marathoners from all over the country gear up to participate in the Tata Mumbai Marathon.

This year was no different. However, one group that ran to promote a cause and has been in the news are the famed Mumbai dabbawala’s, who were part of the running tribe this year, promoting and raising awareness about ‘Roti Bank’, an initiative they started in 2016.

Under the Roti Bank, the dabbawalas, who usually supply hot lunch to thousands in Mumbai, have tied up with various restaurants and caterers around the city to collect excess leftover food so that it reaches the poor and needy.

They have also set up a dedicated call centre where people can inform them if they have excess food. It is collected and distributed to homeless people who don’t have any food security at all.

Mumbai Dabbawala

We, at The Better India, spoke to Subhash Talekar, spokesperson of the association, who said, “We were a group of 12 dabbawalas who participated in this marathon. The idea was to create awareness about our association. The reach of the Mumbai Marathon is very high, and hence we chose this platform. We managed to collect almost 1000 food packets once the marathon was done and those we distributed amongst the needy.”

“The message we wanted to send across to people is to minimise food wastage. Inadvertently sometimes we end up throwing away so much food that could make the life of another person so much better,” he said.


“Our biggest USP is the network we have created. We are known for quickly reaching a location and delivering lunch boxes. We wanted to use this skill to help the needy,” he said.

If you are in Mumbai or know anyone who would be willing to donate food to this initiative, then do call on +919867221310 and +918652760542.

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