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Let’s Feed Bengaluru: Preparing an extra meal for those in need
February 25, 2016• By Team ICMYC
Unflattering scenes that symbolize the deep chasm between the haves and have-nots in a society are often found lining the streets in the form of the homeless and hungry. More often than not, the sights invoke no response from anyone. Then there are those groups of active citizens who just refuse to turn a blind eye. ‘Let’s Feed Bengaluru’ was formed by a similar group of concerned citizens who wanted to make a difference. The city-based initiative encourages residents to cook an extra meal, and distribute the same among those in need.
“LFB is a group of ‘food buddies’ who love to share joy by helping the underprivileged kids and elderly citizens with homemade food. We are regular people living normal lives, making a living, there is nothing special about us but there is something very special about this medium that is helping the underprivileged in the little ways. Our tagline, in a way, represents our initiative the best: ‘Homemade. With Love’. There’s more to this initiative than just “food”. It’s also about providing a platform to the citizens of Bangalore to embrace humanity, share love and spread smiles,” says Harshil Mittal, the founder of LFB. He adds, “The motivating principle behind this concept is: one doesn’t need money to help people. The idea is to make more people believe that humanity can never die. Someone in someplace at some time is making something special possible!”
So how does the initiative work? “Anyone interested simply needs to fill the Volunteer form or the Food-Donor form and then join our Facebook group for event updates. On the day of the event, they just need to cook extra meals and pack them for the team who will collect it from their doorsteps. The packaging material is provided by eatfresh.in and is available to the donors for free. The idea is to collect freshly prepared food from houses and distribute it to the less privileged kids and aged people who are homeless or residing in slums/orphanages/old age homes etc. The volunteers bring the food to a common point and the food is then taken to the distribution area for serving the people,” explains the Bannerghatta resident.
The team has conducted drives in the slum areas of Kundanahalli and Jayanagar and wishes to expand to as many places as possible. “We have managed to reach out to approximately 2,700 people over the last four drives. Going forward, we want to serve 10,000 people in the next few months. We are completely focused on this target and plan to go even beyond,” says Harshil.
The team has 350 registered volunteers, with more joining in occasionally. “On Valentine’s Day, we had more than 60 volunteers chipping in. With their help, we distributed 500 balloons, 700 meal packets, 700 chocolates and around 100 cakes to the kids and elderly people in slums of Tilaknagar and Kundanahalli,” he says. The biggest reward, he points out, is the endless string of smiles the team gets from thousands of faces.
“Our next event is on March 20, where we will be serving food to more than 1,000 needy kids and elderly people,” adds the 23-year-old.
Challenges and reception:
Harshil points out that the reception he got after pitching the idea to the members of his housing society was motivating. “They were extremely moved with this simple yet effective method of reaching out to the needy. We have a zero-money policy and don’t take or give money. Simple, because whenever money is involved people doubt the intention. Instead, if a person simply gives a portion of what is being cooked for the family, it takes out that element of doubt from their mind,” he adds.
However, in spite of the noble idea, the team had to face its fair deal of challenges. One of the challenges was to strike a balance between their grueling work schedules while maintaining the initiative. “We decided to make time for this once, and the experience was enough to motivate us to make this into a habit. It’s almost an inexpressible feeling to see little kids wait for a packet of food with so much heart. This opportunity enabled us to understand and appreciate the value of food that we all get so easily on our plates every day. This initiative has not only helped underprivileged people but also bought a huge transformation in our lives," he points out.
Another challenge involved timely intervention to ensure things get done. “Since we run on a ‘more efforts, no money’ concept, it becomes challenging to get all the things in place within the stipulated amount of time. To our rescue is the always active WhatsApp group which is our primary mode of communication for exchanging ideas and thoughts among all the members of the group," he explains.
LFB’s future plans include increasing the number of people in the team, and reaching out to more people. “Through this medium, we also get to look into the lives of the needy a little more closely than we normally would. That helps us expand our activities of creating more awareness. We would also like to move into the field of education to help those in need," says the changemaker.
For more information, join their Facebook group or visit their website www.letsfeedblr.com