21st Century’s Robin Hood Army

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Be it any celebration or a function, food is the focal point of attraction. But all said and done a huge quantity of food is wasted after every wedding or a party. Here, is where ‘The Robin Hood Army’ steps in as saviours with just the right solution to combat this snag.

Robin Hood Army (RHA) is a group of enthusiastic volunteers, having fed more than 3500 people in our city. Fundamentally it is an international volunteer based organisation set up with an objective to feed the underprivileged by collecting the left-over food from wedding halls and restaurants. The modus operandi followed is by organising food drives on Sundays and occasionally night drives if they are summoned by any wedding mandap.

V.M. Aditya who started this impressive initiative in Bhubaneswar said, “My partner and Gym buddy, Sumeet, pitched the idea to me around May at the gym. Having known, that Zomato was the food provider for the Robin Hood Army in other parts of the country, the opportunity in Bhubaneswar could be worked around the same concept. A week was gone in discussing, playing around with ideas and getting maximum people on board. We were guided by the official RHA expansion team and in the last week of May, we had our first drive. Our vision is to eradicate hunger and alleviate poverty. We identified that 1/3rd of the food produced in the country; gets wasted due to over production call this as, ‘excess food’. The main source of excess food is from restaurants, hotels, wedding ceremonies, meetings, functions, college caterers etc, where food is made in bulk quantities. We partner with these entities and get them on board after apprising them about our vision. Meanwhile, we also identify ‘target areas’, which are slums, orphanages, old age homes and disability colonies.

In India, where malnutrition is of high concern, it’s sad that we have large quanties of food being wasted and thrown away. Amidst this scenario Robin Hood Army has come up with this unique idea to use that food to feed the HUNGRY. Supporting this, Projjal Prajna Das, an active volunteer of RHA shared, “Lepers are outcast by the society as abomination. More than their disease, it is the parochialism of the society that segregates them.  RHA conducted food drives, thus breaking the misconceptions of people. The settlement had adults and kids, who came in a line with plates and we served them without any discomfort. The kids were visibly happy and not a single grain of rice was left on their plates .They promptly disposed the used plates in the dustbin. It was all so disciplined and orchestrated. While capturing those rare moments on my camera, I felt proud to be a Robin, who believes in distributing hope and showing that humanity still prevails. RHA is not only about feeding but changing perceptions too.”

The volunteers call themselves ‘Robins’ who are from college students to working professionals of every age group. The planning and coordination is systematically done through a WhatsApp group. The RHA team distributes their responsibilities and the team responsible to collect food brings it to the distribution area. Food is collected from local restaurants, which donate their surplus food and sometimes, also give fresh cooked meals. Many people call the RHA over telephone and donate both left-overs as well as freshly cooked food.

“The contentment in the eyes of the people who eat is very touching. It has been incredible working with the young volunteers. The youngsters are dedicated and the feeling to be able to bring a smile on the faces of people who struggle for every meal, each day is a very satisfying experience”, said Jayashree Sahoo, an entrepreneur and a robin since its inception in Bhubaneswar.

On the occasion of the impending Independence Day, Robin Hood Army has big plans to announce their arrival in a big way. Sumeet Sahoo, founder member of RHA, Bhubaneswar Chapter revealed, “This 15th August we are targeting to feed 5000 people. Keeping in mind the paucity of time our team has double down on their efforts to be present in as many localities before D-Day. Nationally, with RHA’s presence in 70 cities around the globe and 30 chapters setup in the last one year alone, would say that our growth path has been very satisfactory. However, when I look at the scale of the problem we are fighting, I realize that we are not even scratching the surface. After setting base in the major squatter settlement zones in the city hub, we have already shifted focus to other smaller areas, but we are still in a nascent stage and have a very long way to go”.

Talking about the challenges Sumeet said that, “As any volunteer based movement, we’re struggling with volunteer attendance at times. A little shake-up and orientation will boost attendance and help us serve better. I believe, folks in Bhubaneswar have always wanted to come out on the street and do their bit. We’re just a platform and slowly proving to be a reliable one”.

Abhishek Tripathy a young Robin puts in, “I always had a dream of serving the poor. The concept of RHA was quite intriguing. No food wastage and feeding the hungry. This is what keeps me going”.

Therefore evade wastage of food and ping RHA volunteers, who in turn will help you feed the hungry with the leftovers.

You can contact Robin hood army on : 8527485879, 7008606996 and 9556683404

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