Hyderabad: The Covid-19 pandemic has been a great leveller in many ways. And with more people realising that more are coming out to help the unfortunate especially by way of providing food.
One among these is the former director of the National Police Academy, Aruna Bahuguna, who launched the Hyderabad chapter of the Mumbai-based movement Roti Bank. A brainchild of former Mumbai Police Commissioner D Sivanandhan, Roti Bank aims at collecting donations and using that money to cook meals and distribute them to those in need.
“During the same time last year, the entire nation saw migrant workers going home in large numbers. We started noticing that their footwear was in bad shape, worn out from walking long distances. This was around April and we thought we should arrange something,” she said, adding that she spread the word in her circle and soon, many started donating footwear — even new ones.
“Not just footwear, people donated food items too,” she says. It was then that she decided to take a hint from Sivanandhan’s initiative in Mumbai and in August, Aruna launched the Roti Bank Hyderabad chapter.
“We wanted to start it in July, but we all got infected during that time. We thus initiated the services in August,” she says, adding that they served fresh and quality vegetarian food, mostly dal, rice and a vegetable curry. “On some festivals or when people donate on their birthdays or anniversaries, we also include a sweet in the packet,” she says.
Roti Bank has two kitchens, one each in Gachibowli and Jubilee Hills, where the food is prepared following all hygienic precautions. “Every day, once we prepare the food, we take it to a certain locality to serve people there. We do not go to the same locality every day, to make sure people don’t depend on us,” she informs.
The food is cooked and packed into individual packets to prevent infections. The places for distribution are identified in advance by the police, with priority to construction worker camps, where there will be needy children and hungry people whose salaries have been slashed or terminated from jobs without any security or prior notice citing the pandemic.
Roti Bank has previously collaborated with other organisations as well, like the Rotary Club of Hyderabad Deccan and Sahayata Trust. “I felt that rather than waiting for the government to do something, as privileged citizens, we should do something in our own small way,” she says.
The non-profit food and rescue organisation, Roti Bank, Mumbai, was launched by Sivanandhan in December 2017, in collaboration with Mumbai’s famous tiffin carriers and is backed by several celebrities and politicians.
Till now, Roti Bank has served about 30 lakh people, of which 18 lakhs have been children. Around 3,500 volunteers help run the kitchens and distribute the meals every day. The initiative also has tie-ups with hotels and restaurants, which donate leftover food.
Do your bit!
To donate to Roti Bank, one can contact 70136 71472. All donations are exempted from Income Tax under Section 80 G.
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