Banking on Goodwill
OFFBEAT The Rajasthan Youth Association Metro's food bank provides a meal a day to over 200 institutions across Chennai. PRINCE FREDERICK meets the people behind the 20-year initiative
In its 2010 report, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) states that just seven countries India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia — account for 65 per cent of the world's hungry.” The World Food Programme (WPF) has more disheartening news for the country: “about 25 per cent of the world's hungry poor live in India” and “around 43 per cent of Indian children under age five are malnourished.”
These hunger statistics serve to highlight the significance of the food bank run by the Rajasthan Youth Association Metro since 1993. The charity, which collects and distributes food grains (primarily rice and wheat) to the needy, has grown — from 35,000 kilos of food grains collected and distributed in its first year, to over 25,000 kilos every month. It reaches 200-odd institutions in and around Chennai, giving the inmates there a meal-a-day. Not just the quantum of food grains, the focus of the project has also widened.
In its 20th year now, RYA Metro's Foodbank — also known as ‘Chennai Food Bank' (CFB) — plans to extend its programme to the other metros. A unique model created and sustained by the Rajasthan Jain business community in Chennai, it is expected to be replicated by Jain groups in other cities. “In Bangalore, a community-run food bank has begun to function, but on a small scale,” says Anand Surana, co-chairman of the CFB. Having served the cause for over 19 years, the RYA team is familiar with the huge demand and knows the challenge lies in finding groups that will be prepared for hard sacrifices.
The RYA Metro has taken on a variety of schemes, the most challenging being, “Mutti Bhar Anaj” (MBA) which is still the nucleus of the charity. In this scheme, a volunteer knocks on the door of a donor and leaves an empty 5-kg container with him. Every day, the donor is expected to deposit a fistful of rice — or any other food grain of his choice — and at the end of a month, the volunteer arrives to collect the container and leave an empty one behind, thereby restarting the cycle.
“Most people can afford to put aside 5 to 6 kg of rice every month. Its reasonable demand makes MBA extremely popular. People have taken to it partly because most Indian communities believe feeding the poor is the greatest of all charity,” says G.D. Ranka, founder and advisor of the Chennai Food Bank.
During a tour of Australia 20 years ago, Ranka discovered food banks are essential to any society. India needed food banks, but they had to be run differently. “In the West, food banks go to manufacturers and retailers, who are only too keen to dispose of packages that are slightly damaged. In those countries, destruction of unwanted stocks entails a huge cost,” says Ranka. “In India, we had to go to the people.”
There is a pattern to how RYA Metro team attracts donors. At camps conducted around the city, CFB literature is distributed and residents won over to its cause. Over the years, almost all the prominent localities in Chennai have come under the CFB membership drive. In addition, it has introduced other schemes. Bori Bhar Anaj (BBA), which encourages a donor to give away a bagful of rice or the money for one. Harvest Fellowship Scheme, which invites life memberships with ratings — silver, gold, diamond and platinum. Membership collections go into a corpus fund, interest from helps meet the running costs of the organisation. The fund also comes in handy to meet exigencies caused by calamities, natural or otherwise. “It enables us to take up ad hoc projects,” says Ranka.
From time to time, RYA Metro also organises picnics for underprivileged and special children. To celebrate its 25th anniversary and the CBF's 20th year, it took 1,000 children on a chartered train to Tirupati. “Seventy per cent of these children were travelling by train for the first time,” says Anand. “Our service is attracting more eyes than ever. Finding us through our website (chennaifoodbank.com), a few corporate houses have shown interest in supporting our initiative.”
Ranka and Anand point out that the charity has been sustained by selfless service. “It's a charity run on a day-to-day basis. From collection to distribution, every little job is done under our personal supervision,” says Anand. “Best practices are followed at the CFB.”
The RYA Metro team sifts through the credentials of organisations appealing for support. “An institution is taken on board only after a thorough appraisal,” says Ranka. Centralised distribution is a natural extension of this insistence on quality. All through the month, waves of beneficiaries visit its distribution centre in T.Nagar.
“In 2005, the Chennai Food Bank received ISO9000 certification,” says Ranka. “At that point of time, it was the first food bank in the world to receive such a certification.”
Most people can afford to put aside 5 to 6 kg of rice every month. It's this reasonable demand that makes the Mutti Bhar Anaj project popular
Chennai Food Bank to provide 13 lakh meals
Rajasthan Youth Association celebrates project day
CHENNAI: The Rajasthan Youth Association Metro and Chennai Food Bank celebrated its 13th project day with many stars. It promised to provide 13 lakh meals to the needy in the coming year.
Prakash Raj, Revathy Menon, S.J. Suryah and S.Ve. Shekar delighted the children, who benefited by the Food Bank project, at Madras Seva Sadan on Sunday morning.
They offered advise to the children on life, success and discipline, shared personal anecdotes and distributed chocolates.
Ms. Menon read out the commitment of the Food Bank project to provide 13 lakh meals during 2006-2007.
Chennai Food Bank, a project of RYA Metro, collects foodgrains from donors and distributes them to around 60 charitable institutions. It has also contributed food grains for relief after natural calamities.
Around 8,000 kg of foodgrains are mobilised each month through the Muthi Bhar Anaaj Scheme, under which individuals and families set apart a handful of grain from each meal in special containers.
It is collected at the end of the month by Food Bank volunteers.
Three institutions were added to the list of organisations supported by the Bank, and 25,000 kg of grain was pledged by RYA Metro members to mark the 13th anniversary.
The Food Bank can be contacted at 2431 2096.MORE IN: TAMIL NADU | NATIONAL
Chennai Foodbank Striving to Combat Hunger
The Chennai Food Bank is one of the prestigious projects of RYA Metro Trust started about 17 years ago with members throughout the city. Since its inception, it has donated more than 1.5-crore meals to the under-privileged. With many subscribers joining, the organisation decided to involve the local community.
“Having reached a landmark figure we wanted to have more rapport with the local people so that we can donate about five-crore meals in the next few years,” says Shanti. P. Chordia, a member of RYA, Metro. “We are sure to achieve success as we already have the donors, collection process and distribution pattern in place,” adds Shanti.
The food bank has about 80 institutions (orphanages, old age homes and education institutions) under its purview. It has divided its recipients into three batches who will collect the grains from the organisation every Friday and Sunday, from their 2,500 sq.ft. collection centre at 12, Saravana Street, T. Nagar.
More than 25 vans in clearly chalked out routes ply across the city collecting grains from flats and residents. These are deposited in the collection centre where they are cleaned and stored hygienically.
The food bank has various schemes. ‘Mutti Bhar Anaj Yojana' – A Fistful of Rice - is a scheme in which one begins the day by depositing a handful of rice in a separate container. Once the container is full it will be collected by the RYA.
People can sponsor a bag of rice for the hungry by joining the ‘Anna Dan Yojana'. One can give a 50 kg bag for Rs. 1,100 or a 75 kg bag for Rs. 2,500 by enrolling in the Bhori Bhar Aanaj scheme. One can donate substantial amount of money for the project and become a Platinum Harvest Fellow, Golden Harvest Fellow or Silver Harvest Fellow.
RYA is now initiating talks with a chain of restaurants to take the hygienically prepared remaining food by the end of the day, deep freeze it and distribute it to the needy the next day.
Another project involves the corporate. According to this, a nominal amount will be auto debited from the employee's credit card to the Food Bank.
RYA appeals to all Chenniites to join hands with the trust. All one has to do is to lend a helping hand. Anybody can volunteer to be part of this project.MORE IN: Downtown | Features | Chennai
INAUGURATION OF “FREEDOM FROM DIABETES – BUILDING A HEALTHY INDIA”
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR.K.ROSAIAH, GOVERNOR OF TAMIL NADU AT THE
INAUGURATION OF “FREEDOM FROM DIABETES – BUILDING A HEALTHY INDIA”
LECTURE SEMINAR AT ANDHRA SOCIAL CULTURAL ASSOCIATION AT T. NAGAR,
CHENNAI ON 02.07.2015 AT 06.30 PM.
It is a pleasure to inaugurate the Lecture Seminar ‘Freedom from Diabetes- Building a Healthy India’ jointly organized by Andhra Social Cultural Association, Chennai Food Bank, Rajasthani Association Tamil Nadu, Sri Rajasthani Jain Samaj – Mambalam, Singhvi Charitable Trust & Mohan Mutha Exports Pvt. Ltd and address this distinguished gathering here today. We are a nation with 1.25 Billion people. Health of the citizens is the wealth of a nation. Both the Central and State Governments have health of the citizens as their prime agenda. Even though we have made immense progress in the field of medicine we have a long way to go to make the fruits of medical science reach the common man. Sensitizing the people on health care and hygiene is imperative. Our food and eating habits, intake of spicy food, carelessness in health have led us to lose all our hard earned money and wealth for treating our diseases. Health is not merely managing with diseases. It is leading a happy life free from diseases. It is high time we create awareness on healthcare and hygiene. Lack of exercise, obesity, spicy and high calorie food lead to high B.P., high cholesterol, Diabetes, Heart attack etc. Diabetes is the gateway to many diseases. Today diabetes is one of the fastest growing health problem and is becoming an epidemic in India with more than 62 million diabetic persons. It is said to become the diabetes capital of the world. Studies reveal that the prevalence of diabetes in rural population is one quarter that of urban population in India and about 4.8 million people are affected in Tamil Nadu. To reduce diabetes burden it is high time that the Medical Fraternity, healthcare providers and NGOs join hands to implement diabetes screening, early detection programmes and diabetes prevention management systems. Studies also reveal that nearly 44 lakh Indians who are in their most productive age are not aware that they are afflicted. International diabetes federation cautions that diabetes number would cross 100 million mark by 2030 and about 52% Indians are not aware that they are suffering from high blood sugar. If 2 neglected it will damage vital organs of the body; it will also cause diabetic nephropathy and retinopathy affecting kidneys and vision. Diet modification, regular exercise and proper medicine will help to manage and control diabetes effectively. If properly adhered to, it is said that diabetes can be controlled in nearly 80% of the cases in India. It is nice that the Lecture Seminar ‘Freedom from Diabetes- Building a Healthy India’ is organized by various forums here today. Fast foods with sedentary life style have been the main cause for increase in obesity. Returning to healthful plant based foods with less oil, getting accustomed to proper eating habits is the key to check rise of diabetes. I am sure this lecture seminar would throw much light on the need for intake of healthy plant based foods and for adopting healthy dietary and proper eating habits. This message should reach to the people of all sections of the society. I appeal to the organizers to join hands to control and prevent diabetes becoming an epidemic. I am pleased to learn that leading doctors like Dr. Zeeshan Ali from Washington DC, Dr.Pramod Tripathi, Dr. Nandita Shah are giving lectures on building a healthy India. I convey my warm felicitations to the organizers and to all the participating delegates and wish the Lecture/ Seminar all success. I conclude with the Arabian Proverb, “He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.” Let us join hands to build a healthy India and build hope and confidence in the people on leading a healthy and happy life. My Greetings to you all.
2014 - 2015 GlobalFood Policy Report
World Food Programme Hunger Map 2015
APNA BANA LO 2016 –“ Child In The Wild” A visit to Vandalur Zoo with 5000 God’s Own Children
APNA BANA LO, a very thoughtful tagline of RYA Metro created another memorable event in the history of Chennai Foodbank.
24th April 2016 was a very special day to all Metronian families. Our wish of a “Child In The Wild” was made into reality for more than 5000 God’s Own Children from nearly 55 orphanages and homes all over Chennai.
The Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur was bustling with activity as early as 6.00 a.m on 24th April 2016. All the children were escorted to the venue in more than 100 buses provided by some of the engineering colleges in Chennai. We appreciate the kind gesture of the management of the engineering colleges for their logistics support . Special band troupe by Surana jain Vidyalaya was present at the venue to receive the children arriving at the zoo. The children were greeted with music on arrival. All the children were honoured with special caps given by our Lady Metronians. As they moved ahead into the zoo the children were excited to pose for photographs in the special photo booth provided exclusively for this event. Watching the animals was fun to many children. Tasty eatables, juice and lassi made their day hunger free.
It was a day of unlimited entertainment for the children. From the zoo all the children were escorted to the SRM University for a delicious lunch. After lunch the children were entertained by an excellent musical programme in the SRM auditorium , conducted by Lakshman Sruthi & group. It was indeed a beautiful sight to see all the children happily dancing and clapping for all the latest tamil hit songs. The happiness & smile that we saw on the faces of so many children made us realise the purpose of conducting events of such a huge magnitude. Our chief guest Shri.Arun Jain , Smt.Manju Jain and Guest of Honour Shri. Rajagopalan were very happy to be a part of this mega event.
We wanted to give a send off to all the children with the same happiness & smile on their face, as they came in the morning to the event.A goody bag with some useful items & a blanket was gifted to all the children. Packed dinner was given to all.
Apna Bana Lo – Our effort to bring happiness in the life of many God’s Own Children. Metro families stand together for this noble cause.At this juncture we express our hearty thanks to all the members, children & ladies for their strong support in all areas like planning, logistics, co-ordination, packing, distribution etc and all our donors who have made this event a magnificient success.
Our journey of service to the needy will continue for generations & let us be a part of many more Apna Bana Lo events.
Thanking You All.