By Srishti Jain:
India is a prominent global voice that has made significant progress in human development over the past 60 years. But the benefits of a growing economy are not shared equally: the country is still home to one-third of the world’s poor. Hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. India tops the world hunger chart with around 20 crore Indians sleeping hungry each night. The hunger and malnutrition level in India has reached such heights that we are forced to believe the shocking fact that in India; nearly 2 million children who are born each year do not live beyond the age of five. At the same time, 40% food goes waste in India, which is enough to feed one-third of the poor.
As a report reveals, “The food grain production is touching new heights every year and we are producing more than sufficient to feed our people without relying on external support. However, sufficient food production is not the only criteria to provide food security in a country and eliminate hunger. Producing food more than the actual amount required does not provide a solution to the existing increasing threat.”
What we call food wastage can be converted into food security for others. The extra food that we carelessly throw in the trash bins can instead be the next meal for someone who hasn’t even seen food in days. All that we need to do is to realise its actual worth and the need of the hour.
“For now I ask no more than the justice of eating,” said Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and Noble Prize winner. Even in the 21st century, there are a few kind souls who believe that hunger is not a matter of charity but an issue of justice. They gathered together to reflect their motive, and call themselves, ‘Feeding India‘; an organisation that works on the roots and is fulfilling the actual need of the hour. The people associated with the organisation have connected two major social problems of today – hunger and food waste, by channelising excess food from individuals, corporates, weddings, restaurants, to the ones in need.
Mehak, one of the volunteers (or ‘Hunger Heroes’ as they call themselves), shares her story, “Once we went to Connaught Place in Delhi and a young boy came over and asked for food. Unfortunately, we did not have a meal to offer so we offered to buy him something. But the innocent child cried, ‘mujhe chips nahi chahiye, khana chahiye, bhookh lagi hai (I don’t want chips, I need proper food).’ This was something that touched me. I gave my lunch to him. The adorable child, aged 7-8 years full of miserable eyes, wanted a few of us to sit with him and talk to him. And then he shared his story with us, over lunch.”
The compelling stories of the lives of people who fight hunger each day are what strike the deepest chords of one’s heart. Let’s not let our brethren fight the pangs of hunger alone. You cannot tell a hungry child that you gave him food yesterday, so stop wasting and start sharing.