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India's first food banking network launched in Delhi for nutrition needs of undernourished
In a much-needed initiative to provide food and nutrition to Delhi's estimated 3 lakh undernourished people living in slums and orphanages, the Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit and Dr. Sam Pitroda, Advisor to Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations, on June 8 launched the country's first ever India FoodBanking Network (IFBN) in New Delhi by launching the Delhi chapter.

THE DELHI FoodBank will bring together suppliers, warehousing facilities, transit service providers and established feeding programs so that non-perishable nutritious essentials such as grains, cereals, and spices can reach food feeding programs, who will then distribute cooked food to the needy in the city. The FoodBank in Delhi, using latest technology, will align and bring together the voluntary, public, and private sector, to scale up supply of existing food feeding programs so that there is continuous supply of food and through technology-driven processes - food is received by the needy whenever they require it.

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To commence this program, which seeks to remove hunger from the country by 2020, the Delhi government signed a MoU with the India FoodBanking Network - a first step in the larger aim to operate FoodBanks in all the districts of the country. It is hoped that the IFBN will streamline all those who are working to improve supply of food in the country, individually or intuitionally, so that the current farmer-driven food supply in the market reaches those who need it, and excess food does not go waste.

Basically, this is how the Delhi IFBN will work - a supplier of non-perishables, be it an individual, private organization or a government body will get in touch with the Delhi FoodBank. Transit service providers will then take over and pick up food items provided voluntarily and take it to a warehouse for storage. Whenever an established feeding program such as those run by charitable hospitals, yateem khanas or orphanages, or similarly-motivated set-ups, want to help the needy, they get in touch with the FBN for the non-perishables, and the feeder program – the last mile link in the supply chain leading to the needy - will cook and provide nutritious food to beggars, slum-dwellers, and the destitute.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Pitroda said, "The launch of the India FoodBanking Network is an occasion to collectively communicate to the nation that we will indeed eliminate hunger in India by 2020 and begin this journey together. The idea for IFBN emerged from discussions with the Global FoodBanking Network in Chicago, and FoodBanks are operational in more than 30 countries across the world. I have always believed technology can greatly help in solving issues related to hunger and through this launch we will bring technology, logistics IT, and involvement of the local community to feed their own community. IFBN is an effort to bring the government, private sector and NGOs together to fight hunger and malnutrition in the country.” Right after the launch of the IFBN Dr. Pitroda left for Chicago in the US on official work.  

"The targeted objective of the IFBN for the next two years is to provide nutritious food to up to 3 lakh people who are in desperate need of nutrition to survive. Presently, we are already providing this service to 6,000 needy persons in Delhi," Kuldip Nar, Managing Director, Aidmatrix Foundation, which provides technical support to the Delhi and IFBN, told this Citizen Journalist .  

In preparation of the IFBN, and under the leadership of Mr. Pitroda., a three-year study was undertaken and experiences of FoodBanks in 30 countries, including those in the US, the UK, France, Ethiopia, and South Africa, were studied. After collating research, the idea of a FoodBank was tested two months prior to the official launch. With proof of concept in place, the launch of the IFBN was announced on June 8. Following the launch, the objective is to observe how the FoodBank concept works in Delhi after being operationalized, and then spread the concept across the country.

The major cost of the Delhi FoodBank - for the underwriters of this project - will be on logistics, warehousing and transit. Participating partners in the IFBN apart from the Delhi government include Reliance Foundation, DLF Foundation, Global FoodBanking Network, Cargill India, and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. DLF Foundation is presently running a FoodBank-like program to provide nutritious food for migratory workers.

For those who want to associate themselves with the IFBN, volunteers can visit www.delhifoodbanking.org, and can use the toll-free SMS Short Code Service – to get or give food. SMS givefood to 58888 or getfood to 58888, and doing so will bring together those who require food and its donors and seekers. In the long run the IFBN seeks to address immediate food needs, and also integrate surplus food into the food supply chain so that the country is able to feed all people minimum amount of healthy food.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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