“It was also one way by which my students could connect with the world outside the school boundaries. Sensitising them to the plight of the kids outside was also something that I wanted to do.”
Since July 2, 2018, kids living in the Tiljala slum, located close to the Mahadevi Birla World Academy in Park Circus, Kolkata, have had home food, all thanks to the Any Time Food (ATF) Fridge that has been set up by the students and teachers of the school.
The Better India spoke to Anjana Saha, the Principal of the Academy, who tells us how the ATF Fridge came into being, and how the collection and distribution works.
Anjana says, “I had read an article about these Food ATMs in the city, and that was how the idea of starting something similar in our school was born.”
“With a strength of 4,000 students, I was sure we could make a difference.”
For Anjana, it was also about providing the students with an exposure to the realities outside. She says, “It was also one way by which my students could connect with the world outside the school boundaries. Sensitising them to the plight of the kids outside was also something that I wanted to do.”
While the students were busy studying various subjects, being a part of changing things, while not losing touch with reality, would teach them so much more, she felt.
The school spent considerable time in understanding how existing Food ATMs worked; they then visited the slum area to see what food items would be needed before launching the food ATM. A group of students also made a short film on all they had seen, so that the others in school could watch and learn.
“Besides sensitising the kids, we also spoke to the parents and sent home circulars urging the parents to be mindful of what they sent to school with their children. We had to ensure that no rotten or perishable food items were left in the fridge,” she says.
From Monday to Friday, between 2.45 pm and 3 pm, kids between the ages of 6 to 14, line up for the gates to be opened.
They take home various food items that include bread, milk, pulses, dalia, biscuits, raw vegetables and fruits.
“Every evening, we have two or three senior school students who stay back voluntarily to help us distribute the food. So far, it has been a smooth process, and we hope that we can continue this on an ongoing basis,” shares Anjana.
She concludes, “Being a part of this project has instilled not just discipline but is also teaching the senior students how to delegate, manage what they have, and plan for what is needed. It’s truly an important lesson for them.”
We hope that more schools come forward and devise ways in which students can help be a part of a larger change in society.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)