Food for thought !!January 11, 2012 at 08:30 pm
In our world which is stepping into a brand new year, extravagant weddings are becoming an inevitable part of lifestyle just like having a car. Arranging multicuisine menu in the reception parties or in some cases, birthday or kitty parties ! It is not such a big deal anymore . While much of this food goes to waste, another world exists where adults and children are still forced to sleep empty stomach!
To deal with this crisis at local level, RHEED - Rural Health Education Employment Development, an NGO has come up with EFM (excess food management ) plan.
RHEED collects food that is extra from such parties and distributes to the needy. It's working on this since 2010 but still they lack sufficient equipments to run the program in an optimum fashion, with little help from government or other funders. Despite the odds, they have managed to feed thousands of hungry people. Their work is limited to the city of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh but they plan to spread to other cities in the state.
Some statistics to throw light on how grave the situation of hunger in India is-
- According to GHI (Global Hunger Index) 2011, India is ranked 66 among 88 countries (lowest rank being the hungriest).
- India is home to the world's largest food insecure population, with more than 200 million people who are hungry.
- When compared to countries in the GHI, Indian states' rankings would range from 34th (Punjab) to 82nd (Madhya Pradesh). This indicates substantial variability among states.
- All Indian states have at least a "serious" level of hunger; there is not a single state with low or even moderate levels. Twelve states fall into the "alarming" category and one (Madhya Pradesh) is considered to have an "extremely alarming" level of hunger.
In such a situation where every third hungry child lives in India, will amassing extra food from weddings necessitate all?
The Delhi government was so much aghast by wastage of food in a lavish wedding in mid 2011 that a panel of 15 members was formed to suggest ways to curb food wastage. While the panel's verdict is still unheard, the government proposed to implement the Guest Control Order (GCO) of 1960s to check the rampant wastage of food by restricting the number of guests to be invited at wedding parties.
Wastage of food at the marriages (which is once in a lifetime activity) is quite small compared to the wastage at restaurants, five-star hotels or even corporate parties (which are no less in terms of grandeur and lavishness).
According to a study conducted by an NGO, daily wastage of food at starred hotels in Mumbai would be enough to feed the entire slum dwellers of the city. Between 15-20 per cent all cooked food at the restaurants and parties are wasted.
Let's have a look at what's the scenario in other parts of the world-
The Hayashi Ya Japanese restaurant on the Upper West Side of the US charges 3 per cent extra if there are left over of food on your plate. Similarly, householders could be fined up to 1,000 pounds in UK, if they fail to comply with the new rules on refuse sorting. In Japan, if a food company wants to throw its waste into a municipal landfill, it has to pay 55 yen/kg.
Perhaps imposing such fines on the hotels (or event management agencies) would be more apt than introducing GCO. But wastage of food happens in each household everyday, doesn't it? It is more of a habit and changing that needs more than just government rules or fines. One should use self judgement and conscience for the same. And also, efforts made by the likes of RHEED bring a spark of Individual Social Responsibilty(ISR) and the spirit of humanity !