Taking the ‘Roti Bank’ initiative to the next level, around 400 of Mumbai’s famous dabbawalas have decided to deliver the leftover food from the social events in Mumbai to the poor.
The dabbawalas – members of Mumbai Jevandabbe Vahatuk Mahamandal, biggest union of the community in the city – have tied up with around 30 major wedding planners and caterers in Mumbai to be able to implement the initiative.
The caterers or planners will call up one of the two helpline numbers and schedule a ‘pick-up’ once the event is over.
The two helpline numbers are +919867221310 and +918652760542, and if one is left with excess food after a social gathering, they can call the numbers and the nearest dabbawalas will collect it from them and distribute it among the pavement dwellers, slum residents or anyone living below the breadline.
To make sure that the food is delivered quickly, the deliverymen will work with the same speed and efficiency, for which they are famous.
The initiative was taken due to the fact that large quantities of unconsumed food goes to waste every other day whenever there is a wedding, party or a social event in Mumbai.
As majority of this food ends up in the garbage bin. Many activists, venues and private citizens from across Mumbai have been trying to prevent the wastage by giving it to the poor.
Talking about the initiative, Subhash Talekar, spokesperson of the Dabbawala union said:
“Why should be the food dumped in the bin when it can be shared with those who cannot afford one proper meal a day? We are known for quickly reaching a location and delivering lunch boxes. We want to use the same skills to help the poor.”
Around 400 dabbawalas will work even after their regular shift ends and give their time for Roti Bank in the afternoon and in the evening.
The dabbawalas have taken this step especially keeping in mind the year-end festivities, but plan to continue it for the coming months.
Caterers across Mumbai are also happy about the dabbawalas’ initiative, as Shashank Kadam, who runs Ameeta Caterers in Parel, points out:
“For any event, more food is prepared to ensure guests are not left waiting with empty plates. Often, there is leftover food that we want to distribute among the needy, but we cannot reach more people because of time and manpower constraints. The dabbawalas have come up with a great idea to prevent wastage because of such problems,”