IIT Gandhinagar has taken the initiative in all of their food joints and canteens for improving food safety and tackling food wastage. All the eating places are licensed/registered by the Food and Drugs Control Administration (FDCA) Gujarat, trained by the Food Safety Awareness and Training Organization (FSATO) an empanelled training partner and audited by DNV GL Business Assurance India Pvt Ltd (DNVGL), an empanelled third-party auditing agency.
IITGN promotes local and seasonal foods by the inclusion of such vegetables and fruit items in the monthly menu. The Institute has also coordinated with Bio Diesel Association of India (BDAI) for collection of used cooking oil from the eating joints. The used waste food is sent to the in-house bio-gas plant for decomposition to make manure.
Awareness programs for tackling food wastage are done regularly. A notice board mentioning the amount of daily food wastage is displayed outside the dining hall to create a sense of responsibility among the community.
New collab for tackling food wastage
For unused excess food, IITGN has collaborated with Robin Hood Army to collect and distribute the leftover food for the needy. Take from the rich and give to the poor. This is the concept through which the Robin Hood Army operates. Albeit not with money, as the legend goes, but with food. The Army, founded in Delhi in 2014 by Neil Ghosh, has spread its presence across many Indian cities, and Pakistan as well.
Food wastage was stopped at the source, by collections from those who had excess; and was immediately distributed to the poor and hungry. In Vizag, the concept was started by Satya and Tanya in 2016, who were students of GITAM, wanting to work for a social cause.
On October 2, they got together with Mithra, a social activist, and a few more friends, cooked food and then distributed it to the needy. This marked their first successful drive in the city. Hotels were soon roped in and a partnership with Swiggy gave them instant updates on cancelled orders, or excess food left, in hotels. As soon as one of the “Robins” would receive information, he or she would pick up the food from the hotel, check it for quality and freshness, pack and finally distribute it to the hungry.
The requisites for joining this army are simple. An intent for contributing to the cause, and being available for a few hours every week to do so, is all that’s needed. Once in, members are placed under the groups. Here they have to be available on an ad hoc basis, and when news of food availability at a particular source comes up, the “Robins” pitch in to pick and donate, an action usually taken up in the next half hour.
While the group looks forth to more restaurants joining their cause, they also urge individuals to spread the word or celebrate their birthdays with the underprivileged, which they can organise. This is how citizens, CSR and hospitality can come together for tackling food wastage.