Of 119 qualifying countries, India ranks 103 in the 2018 Global Hunger Index.
This means that more than 34 infants per 1,000 infants die in their mother’s womb every year. Of those born, almost nine lakh don’t survive till the age of five. And approximately 19 crore people in the country are forced to sleep with an empty stomach.
These aren’t just dry facts, but a reality where people spend each day of their lives grappling with poverty, seeking freedom from hunger and malnutrition.
And despite its prevalence, awareness continues to be scarce. The #StrikeOutChampionship campaign by Bajaj Finserv was launched to bridge that gap. With a focus on spreading awareness on healthcare issues affecting children in India, it targets three key problems—Hunger, Poverty and Malnutrition.
The month-long campaign was recently launched on Instagram by actor Neha Dhupia and consists of three challenges, the first being ‘Show Your Mark’, which involves people to improve child health in India.
To join the challenge, Instagram users were asked to post pictures of the vaccination marks on their arms and tag @Bajaj_Finserv along with #StrikeOutChampionship on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles. The second challenge involves a tongue twister that focuses on the issue of malnutrition among children in the country. One can participate by posting a video of themselves saying ‘Better fed bellies make Bachpan better’ on their social media handles. The participants could earn points through various activities like taking the challenges and sharing them in their networks. Find out more about the campaign here.
While this is your contribution towards changing the scenario, here some of India’s inspiring hunger heroes who are taking the extra step not just to raise awareness but also to solve the problem.
1. Feed the Need
With the slogan ‘Hunger Free Hyderabad’, the Great Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), along with Apple Homes, a non-profit based in the city, started an initiative called ‘Feed the Need’. It serves food, snacks, and water from public refrigerators to anyone in need and attempts to address the twin problems of hunger and food wastage.
Speaking to The Better India, Dr Neelima Arya, founder of Apple Homes says, “Our objective is to feed the poor, the unemployed, and auto/cab drivers who work day and night, and those travelling on the roads. However, it is not meant solely for them—anyone can pick up a water bottle or fruit or anything else they may require.”
2. ‘Magic’ Fridge
Residents of Suncity, a society in Gurugram, have an innovative approach to combat food wastage. They have installed a fridge near the entrance of the apartment where residents and others can contribute.
It houses vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food items and is not restricted to the residents alone, as anyone can open and take whatever they please from the said fridge, all for free!
The response to the fridge has been tremendous where packed boxes of sweets to regular dishes and dairy products like milk and ghee are left by residents. “Sometimes you may feel conscious about giving away food to drivers and watchmen, so this was one way in which we could bring together those who wanted to donate and those who required the food,” says Rahul Khera, one of the residents.
3. Roti Bank
They say that it takes a whole community to bring about change. This Uttar Pradesh town is doing just that.
In a small town in the Bundelkhand region, Mahoba has a unique way of dealing with hunger and food wastage—the residents make food in their homes to feed the town’s hungry and homeless. An extra portion of roti and sabzi is made in over 500 households, collected by volunteers, and distributed by the shops in the town.
Named Roti Bank, the initiative by Tara Patkar, a former journalist, has a team of 10 people who help feed at least 1,000 people in a single day!
4. No Food Waste
Three young boys, Padmanaban Gopalan, Sudhakar M, and Dinesh Manickam, started an initiative called No Food Waste, where they collect excess food from events like weddings and parties and distribute it among the hungry in Coimbatore.
The trio runs a volunteer-staffed hotline for the organisers of such events, who can donate any excess food to the needy.
This effort has now received support from a US-based NGO, Pollination Project, which has selected them as the best initiative among many others nominated from across the world. As a result, they have received a $1,000 grant to work further on the project. Check out their Facebook page for more details.
5. Robin Hood Army
Much like a heroic outlaw in the English folklore, these Robin Hoods, spread across the country and beyond, in even Pakistan, go out at night fighting the biggest enemy of all—hunger!
It was started by a group of six people in Delhi who wanted to bridge the gap between two extremes—the wastage of immense amounts of food and the presence of acute hunger. To solve these problems, a channel was needed to transport the excess to those who needed it. And, this is where the Robin Hoods came to the rescue!
They now pick up the leftover food from different restaurants at dinner time and distribute it among the hungry.
Today, with over 1,000 volunteers, they are spread across 18 cities, serving more than 2.5 lakh people so far.
These individuals are not larger-than-life heroes, but people like you and I. Their work in the area is extraordinary because of their will to make a difference, which is never measured in quantity but quality.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
Feature image source: Robin Hood Army/Facebook