Food apps: How start-ups are feeding the country’s hungry THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION OF FOOD
As Guna Sekaran and Ashwin Narayan unload the food packets, a small crowd gathers, mostly of children under 12. They seem shy, almost retreating. But as the packets are handed out, a bit of jostling begins and their eyes light up at the sight of what’s inside — four chapatis and a generous portion of mixed vegetable. Wordlessly, they sit on the floor and tuck in.
“I haven’t eaten anything since morning,” 11-year-old Neha Kaneria says in between mouthfuls as she also feeds her little brother. Their mother, a domestic help, doesn’t have the time to cook for them most days, she lets in.
It’s the same for most of the children here at this temple basement in Noida sector 55, where they attend an informal school. Sekaran, 28, and Narayan, 27, are volunteers with No Food Waste, a social start-up working to address urban hunger.
The lunch packs they are distributing are leftovers donated by a woman who runs a student accommodation.
No Food Waste has a mobile app of the same name that allows it to crowd source data on hunger spots in India and take requests for donation of excess food. The app has identified 80 such spots in Delhi and the national capital region. “This temple is one of them,” says Sekaran.
“Anyone can pinpoint a place as a hunger spot on our app, and our team verifies it and updates our database. Individuals can directly donate food or request us, through the app, to collect and distribute it, which we do through our volunteers,” says No Food Waste’s 23-year-old founder Padmanaban Gopalan.
Like No Food Waste, many social start-ups founded by young Indians are using technology to feed the poor.
Feeding India is one such organisation that feeds 15,000 people in 25 Indian cities, including 2,500 in Delhi. It says it gets around 100 requests for excess food pick-up every day in the Capital.