Food apps: How start-ups are feed­ing the coun­try’s hun­gry THE SO­CIAL REVO­LU­TION OF FOOD

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Manoj Sharma manoj.sharma@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

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