At a time when our nation is developing at an astonishing speed, it is a shame that we’re yet not being able to tackle the hideous problem of Food wastage. In fact, food wastage is a global problem, and no country has really taken any strong measures to control it. According to Fao.org, Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. The Agricultural ministry of India estimates that INR 50,000 crores worth of food produced in India is wasted every year. What’s heartbreaking is that while on one hand, we waste food worth thousands of crores, on the other hand, we’ve approximately 19 crore people in the country who are compelled to sleep on an empty stomach.
Amid such depressing statistics, it is people like Taira Bhargava who are giving us hope to bring about a positive change in the scenario. Taira, a class 10 student of the Shri Ram School in Gurugram, has started the “Double Roti project” that delivers wasted (but hygienic) food from local bakeries and supermarkets to people in need. India Today quoted her saying,
“Poverty and malnutrition are an overarching concern globally. In India, we not only produce an abundance of food, but we also waste an enormous amount, and it is appalling to see lakhs of people die of hunger,”
At first, she had difficulty in finding hungry people as many charitable organizations, and orphanages refused to accept left-over food expressing their concern over its quality. However, Taira did manage to locate a few places who were willing to accept her help. Currently, she gets surplus bread packets from Modern Bazaar, India’s first supermarket, and a few local bakeries. She distributes the food collected to Cheshire home, and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, thus satisfying the hunger of 400-500 people. In order to ensure that the food delivered is safe enough to consume, she delivers the food in a clean and air-conditioned van to prevent it from staling. She’s tied up with a logistics company who help her deliver the food.
Taira is an ambitious student. She’s a trained Kathak dancer, learning piano for the past 7 years, and is also training for the national table-tennis tournaments. With such a hectic schedule, she finds support for her Double Roti project from her family, who help her finance and execute the project. Even her school has come forward to contribute its leftover canteen food for Taira’s mission. She says that she becomes over-whelmed when people enthusiastically write to her from different parts of the country, appreciating her work and also show a willingness to pitch in to help her scale the project.
Her future plans include getting funded so that she can develop her food collection and delivery system, and target bigger sources. One such source that she has identified is Indian weddings. She feels it’d be a challenge logistically and in terms of hygiene to channelize waste food from weddings. In the near future, she also plans to hire more vans and drivers to help her reach a wider audience.
Taira, unlike many teenagers, does not take her privilege of being born in a well-to-do family for granted.
“I feel, coming from a privileged background, eating the food we want to eat, having access to great education one must always make it a point to give back to society, for it is our responsibility — whether it’s a small gesture or a big initiative it does not matter. I believe that even one can make a difference, and if there’s a will, there is always a way. So, go forth and make the world a better place!”
Taira sets a unique example of how one does not need to wait to become of a certain age or attain a certain status to start giving back to society. Whatever we already possess, is enough to get us started. It could be a small gesture that we would brush off as insignificant, but to the person in need, it could validate the existence of God and goodness in the world; and arouse a little hope for a better future.