New Delhi: Delhi will soon be the first city in the country to set up food banks through which excess cooked and uncooked food will be collected from wedding receptions, parties, social functions, hotels and individual donors for distribution among hungry and poor people.
The scheme is being modelled on the lines of food banks in Chicago in the US where community groups run them to feed hungry people by collecting excess food from hotels, wedding reception and through voluntary donations from individuals as well as various organisations.
The launch of the first ever India Food Banking Network (IFBN) was announced jointly by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Sam Pitorda, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations.
Pitroda said the infrastructure for collecting and distributing the food is being developed in cooperation with Delhi Government, DLF Foundation, Reliance Foundation and Cargill India.
He said donors of food can send an sms to 58888 following which IFBN volunteers will collect the food items while those who need food can also send sms to same number.
Complementing the IFBN for the "unique" project, Dikshit said her government will sign an MoU with India Food Banking Network to facilitate functioning of Delhi Food Bank.
Dikshit said an efficient food storage and distribution system was necessary as hundreds of tonnes of food articles rot in India due to lack of storage.
The Food Bank project has been launched after a comprehensive three-year feasibility and site analysis in Delhi under the leadership of Pitroda.
The IFBN is in the process of setting up a network with community groups, NGOs and government for distributing food to the hungry people.
An IFBN official said a network of cold storage and other required infrastructure is being set up for the project.
The proposal to set up food bank in the city was first mooted by Pitroda during a meeting he had with Dikshit in June last year this year. The basic idea of setting up food bank is to ensure that excess food at various social functions does not go waste.
Pitroda was a member of the board of World Food Bank which supports a chain of NGOs in 21 countries which in total feeds around 41 million people every year.
Pitroda's proposal was enthusiastically agreed to by the city government as Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, following a lavish wedding of a son of a city politician, expressed concern over wastage of food at marriage receptions and asked Congressmen to hold such functions in a "simple" manner.
"Everyday a lot of food goes waste at various parties, functions and marriage receptions. The basic idea is to collect the excess food and distribute it among the hungry people," said an official.
Dikshit and Pitroda also launched a website also through which people can offer food online and get other details about procedure to collect and location of food banks.
Pitroda said the project would be extended to other Indian cities as well.
The IFBN will initially collect uncooked food and after developing required infrastructure, cooked food will also be collected.
Currently, city government is running a programme called 'Aap Ki Rasoi' under which cooked food is being served to the homeless and poor people.
The programme, part of government's Bhagidari initiative, was launched in 2008 with the aim of providing nutritious meal to the destitute.
Various business houses as well as government PSUs have contributed financially to implement the programme.
Currently, 13 'Aap Ki Rasoi' centres are functioning in various parts of the city.