Dabbawalas revive Roti Bank to feed the homeless

Updated: Apr 01, 2020, 08:08 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Two days back, a few local NGOs came forward to help Roti Bank resume services. Dabbawalas collect food packets from these NGOs and deliver them to the homeless in South Mumbai

Dabbawalas collect the food packets from NGOs and deliver them to homeless people in South Mumbai
Dabbawalas collect the food packets from NGOs and deliver them to homeless people in South Mumbai

Dabbawalas, Mumbai's other lifeline, are officially off duty, but they continue to go about with their daily routine of delivering meals — this time to the homeless. They have resumed their food rescue organisation, Roti Bank, with the help of local NGOs, a few corporate firms and Western Railway.

Mumbai's dabbawalas had started this non-profit organisation in 2015 with the aim to eliminate hunger, malnutrition and food wastage. The members collected excess food from events, weddings, hotels and housing societies, and delivered it to hungry people living in slums or on footpath. However, they had to temporarily suspend services following the lockdown over Coronavirus.

Two days back, a few local NGOs came forward to help Roti Bank resume services. Dabbawalas collect food packets from these NGOs and deliver them to the homeless in South Mumbai.

Mumbai Dabbawala Association President Subhash Talekar said, "We had temporarily suspended Roti Bank services as we were not getting food in the absence of any events in the city. Thankfully, we received support from NGOs."

Soon, the Western Railway canteen also offered support, said Talekar.

"Western Railway's canteen has told us to share the requirement a night in advance so that they can prepare food. Corporates like Wipro, too, have approached us offering to provide food grain," he added.

At present, the Roti Bank services are restricted only to South Mumbai as they have only a couple of four-wheelers. "It is not feasible for workers to deliver across the city and the suburbs on cycle," said Talekar, adding that around 2,500 food packets have been distributed so far.

Underlying the need to support the homeless, Talekar said our workers have witnessed the desperation of these people when they go to deliver food. "The people crowd around the bicycle, but we ensure that they maintain adequate distance," he added.

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