Food wastage is very common. On one hand, it is impossible to track down the exact amount of food being wasted every day. But on the other hand, it is certain that many people will benefit from those leftover foods if they are not thrown away.
With that in mind, many countries around the world have started what is called Global food banking, a process of collecting unused and extra food from different sources. Arif R Hossain, an adviser with Prochesta foundation introduced the idea to help the large number of underprivileged people in this country. Arif's idea was simple: start food banking by collecting from different events to restaurants in Bangladesh. In the capital city alone, there are a huge number of people who struggle to eat full meals everyday.
“If you live in Dhaka then a single glance out of your car window will show you that a lot of homeless people are living on footpaths, in railway stations, among other places. Often these people go to sleep with an empty growling stomach. They do small jobs like selling papers, carrying baggage. They hardly manage three full meals a day,” said Ikramuddin Abir, the founder of Proceshta Foundation.
Currently, food banking is helping the neglected people who are outside of Prochesta Foundation’s projects.
With the vision to provide food to these people, the food banking kicked off its journey on May 19th, by of a group of youth from the Prochesta Foundation. Since its inception in Bangladesh, Arif and the team have been promoting food banking on Facebook to involve more citizens.
Ikramuddin said, “Within 72 hours of announcing the initiative, we received around 500 calls from various sources ranging from marriage ceremony to all sorts of different programs across Dhaka city.”
“Since Ramadan has started the calls have slowed down a little. However, we are expecting to be very busy time after the Eid-ul-Fitr because we have had confirmations of a lot of events taking place after the Eid.”
“Definitely its helps us to organise the volunteers, and manage everything from beforehand if the contributor informs us few days before the event,” Ikramuddin added.
Till date, the team have distributed food among 700 people in Komlapur, airport and Tejgoan railway station over a 7 days period.
Ikramuddin said that one of the biggest challenges have been to determine the right amount of food for a location. “But the volunteers have gathered very useful knowledge about the locations and we have learned that with smaller amount of food it is better to distribute in places close to markets. For railway stations much larger quantity is needed. The numbers fluctuate wildly and we need to do quick data gathering every distribution,” Ikramuddin explained.
“In order to facilitate easier the distribution we have planned to do a mapping of the entire city by location and on the amount of needy people,”said Ikramuddin.
Currently, 200 volunteers are working with the Prochesta Foundation. Food is currently being distributed only in Dhaka city. The volunteers, mostly students from different public and private universities, work around the city. They are assigned areas based on their access and proximity. Volunteers are ready to pick up food and distribute at any given time of the day. Ikramuddin says, “Suppose we got a call from a source near Khilgoan area. First, we call the volunteers who live around those places. Being a local, they would know where to go.”
“After collecting the food, the first job is to pack the food. Initially, we used poly-bags but now it has been replaced by one time food packets. Financing of the packaging is currently being funded by Arif bhai,” Ikramuddin said.
“From the very beginning we are always very conscious about keeping the main objective of the initiative in focus. So, we don’t want to add any corporation as a sponsor. We don't want to advertise their names with food banking. Within one month span of time we've got many calls for sponsorships but we have declined all corporate sponsorship offers. Because we don’t wish to ruin its purity of the initiative by adding a title sponsor,” Arif R Hossain said.
Procheshta is consciously avoiding corporate funding so that the intention is not misunderstood, However, Arif encourages individual or corporate involvement as stakeholders. He says, “Stakeholders as in, if someone wishes to help us by providing a pick-up van or packaging or helping to build up the call center, we would take those. In addition, all this support will be acknowledged by the term 'powered by'.
Manssor Ahmed, a Dhaka city local, said, “A grate initiative indeed, it is helping people and at the same time encouraging to not waste food.”
Arif pointed out that Procheshta is not feeding them on regular basis, so there is no chance of making the people dependent on this and stop looking for work.
Procheshta can be reached on the following number to request food pickup: 01842002023