Bhubaneswar: These group of volunteers have fed 3800 people in the last one and a half months in the capital city of Odisha. By organizing food drives every Sunday, they go from place to place in the City of Temples and distribute food among people who dream of having two square meals a day. Meet the change makers in the society who are doing their bit in reducing hunger and food wastage: the Robin Hood Army (RHA), Bhubaneswar.
“We aim to reduce food loss and hunger issues,” said Sumeet Sahoo, who started this noble initiative along with his friend V M Aditya in May this year. They used social media to amass a group of volunteers to help out with the drive and thus kick-started the first event in Master Canteen (Bhubaneswar) where they were able to serve 33 homeless and hungry individuals.
Sumeet said that they collaborated with a local restaurant called Odia Dalma who contributed free meals in their first leg and the RHA has now tied up with a few other restaurants in the city who provided surplus food and sometimes, freshly cooked meals for this initiative. “We are also in touch with several marriage halls who donate leftover food for the needy. Similarly, unconsumed food at private parties and family functions also find a way to reach us. There are volunteers, who are homemakers and they too make home-cooked food for supply,” added Sumeet.
The RHA collects the food and then hand out meals, sometimes in packages or serves them using containers in various places of the capital city. So far, they have conducted 14 such drives in nearby areas of Sailashree Vihar, Capital Hospital and Leprosy Society, to name a few. They have also conducted a night drives in some locations.
“A Robin tastes the food items to gauge its quality before picking it up from a restaurant or event and make sure to serve it without delay so that it doesn’t spoil,” said V M Aditya. The volunteers sporting green T-shirts, wear transparent gloves and keep an eye on hygiene while serving and redistributing food on disposable paper and leaf plates. The RHA also cleans the area of activity and takes care of disposal of used plates and newspapers.
On the occasion of their tenth anniversary, restaurant search and discovery service, Zomato collaborated with RHA and together they fed 1500 underprivileged people, last Sunday. “We are planning to feed 5000 people on Independence Day this year with drives in 4-5 locations simultaneously,” revealed Sumeet.
The volunteers, called ‘Robins’ include a variety of people: from college students to working professionals, irrespective of their age. A hundred-strong WhatsApp group is how they gather information and plan their drives. “The happiness in the eyes of the grateful people who eat the food is overwhelming. We are happy to be giving back to the society by filling hungry stomachs,” said Anjana Banerjee, a 56-year-old working woman who unperturbed by osteoarthritis has been a dedicated Robin in this virtuous venture.
The RHA was founded by Neal Ghose and Anand Sinha in 2014 and has spread to 13 cities in India and beyond like Lahore and Karachi in Pakistan, Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Brazil, Chile and parts of south east Asia, having served six million people since then.