Venkatraman Iyer, a 60 year old Bangalore resident is trying to bridge this supply and demand. For the past 3 year or so, he has been collecting this leftover food after lunch from corporate houses and distributing it the same day in the slums.
" We’ve arranged a TATA ace with driver, vessels and containers, and a small shop which functions as distribution hub. The vehicle arrives bringing the excess food from lunches provided by three software companies to their employees."
" With just 2 corporates on board, we are able to feed 500 people each day. In other words, we distribute close to 10,000 meals a month at a cost of Rs. 40,000. A whopping 4 rupees per meal. Let’s say that again. 4 rupees - That’s all it takes to make sure that a child does not go hungry "
Venkatraman and the NGO he started Swabhimaan has been working to empower the largest slum in Bangalore since 2000. He tests and extend scholarships to over a 100 children each year, runs two community clinics where consultation and medicine comes at an all-inclusive price of Rs. 10, distribute free groceries each month and extends zero interest microfinance loans to women entrepreneurs.
From health and education to employment and food, he supports almost every need of the slum dwellers. He has become one among them – he knows their families, their needs and is a spokesperson for them. If you take a walk in this slum, some person or the other on every street will have a story to tell about how Venkatraman helped him or her.
" It has reached a point, where I believe that this is my extended family. Their pains and miseries are mine. I now cannot think of living away from the community "
Among all the other activities I do, this is closest to my heart as I am making people go to bed without being hungry. The daily food drive meets such an urgent need, we frequently find ourselves pulling cash and resources from other programs to keep it running. Although the food is free, there is a monthly cost of 50-60 thousand to pay the volunteers who help serve the food, the washing and storing of the vessels, the diesel for the vehicle and the maintenance of the vehicle itself
We are hoping this drive on Milaap can help us secure the program and expand it.