This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Abhishek Lohia II. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Roti Bank: Combining Social Work With Technology

More from Abhishek Lohia II

Roti Bank Foundation is a non-profit, tech-driven food rescue organization currently operating in 23 cities. One of the founding team members of the organization – Shriya Kumar, has developed the ‘Roti Bank Foundation’ application, which is now helping immensely in identifying hunger pockets and diverting surplus food to where there is none.

Shriya Kumar – an investment banker, is a visionary towards adapting technology for solving India’s hunger problem. Her idea of mapping hunger pockets across the country for large-scale operations led to the app’s innovation.

Here’s What Shriya Has To Say About Her Journey From The Financial World To The World Of Social Work

I graduated with a degree in computer science, and in college, I was exposed to how technology can be used for varied applications. After college, I joined an investment bank as an algorithmic trader and got an opportunity to go abroad, but my inclination stayed towards working in a sector where finance could be used for social good. Three years later, I had the opportunity to return to India and finance private and public sector development. My current job entails assisting large funds to build their sustainable equity portfolios that ensure people can reap the benefits of supporting good businesses. Working at an intersection of technology, social impact, and finance, I have realized this is an indomitable force for good.” Shriya quoted.

 

Roti Bank Foundation started in December 2017 for redirecting excess food to where there is none. When asked about her involvement in the initiation of the organization, Shriya said, “Unpleasant visuals of people scavenging dustbins for food bothered me. I was deeply perturbed to see so much food go waste and see many people sleep empty stomachs. I tried finding solutions to this problem but could not reach anywhere as most food organizations feared the legal implications of parting with their leftovers and finding beneficiaries who would accept this food was tough. While searching for solutions, I approached my past TEDx speaker (I had organized a TEDx event back in college), Mr. Sivanandhan, who was trying to solve a similar problem. We joined forces and collaboratively started Roti Bank. Mr. Sivanandhan’s years of experience in the police force has taught me more than I could have ever learned.

The organization not only redirects surplus food but also adds items to make the meals nutritionally complete. They partnered with some engineering students to develop a device called ‘Test before Taste.’ The device helped in ensuring appropriate food quality. Later on, they decided to create the ‘Roti Bank Foundation’ application. Innovation helped Roti Bank move forward and scale its mission on a pan-India level and reach the remotest parts of the country.

The ‘Roti Bank Foundation’ Application

The application started in 2019. Here Shriya’s computer science degree came into help for developing the app. The app uses artificial intelligence to find out the hunger pockets. The app assesses the map of a city, and based on the publically available demographic data such as population density, proximity to luxurious services, and the propensity of a particular area to spend, it gauges the level of income and creates a virtual hunger map. The app gives features to its users for locating nearby hunger pockets, becoming a volunteer, sharing posts regarding food camps, etc. With these, the users can serve the needy themselves or have Roti Bank do the needful on their behalf. “I am thankful for the constructive feedback received from volunteers and my mentors throughout my journey with Roti Bank. As they rightly pointed out, many people are looking for avenues to help but are unable to channel their efforts in the right direction. With this application, my focus was to eliminate this barrier.” Shriya quoted.

The Pandemic – A Larger Testing Ground For The Application

When asked about the state of the application and the team during the pandemic, Shriya said, “The pandemic taught us a lot about how we can improve our offerings and the app. With our national resources pressed to the edge, having a pre-determined hunger map helped us swiftly connect to various city hospitals and divert food and aid where it was needed the most. But it also made us realize the need to expand our reach beyond our operating circles and cast a wider net.

The Two Worlds Of Technology And Social Work

Be it any sphere of society, technology today is indispensable. Given how digitized India is becoming, technology will only enable social work missions to reach out to the deepest parts of the country. “Working for a social cause should not just be about the betterment of society but should focus on creating a balance so we can collectively prosper. Like it’s said, doing good need not be isolated from doing well. A well-fed community is more likely to pay forward in the future.” Shriya quoted.

The Future Plans

Roti Bank wants to expand its operations across more parts of the country. The organization aims at ensuring greater acceptability of the app and getting more volunteers on board. Roti Bank looks forward to creating well-fed communities throughout the various nook and corners of India.

You must be to comment.

More from Abhishek Lohia II

Similar Posts

By shakeel ahmad

By Ritwik Trivedi

By Godhuli Barat

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below