In pursuit of his long-cherished goal of making India hunger-free by 2020, Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Prime Minister, along with Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announced the launch of the first Food Bank as part of the India Food Banking Network (IFBN) on Friday.

Mr. Pitroda said the “the idea for IFBN emerged from discussions with the Global Food Banking Network in Chicago”. Noting that food banks are operational in more than 30 countries globally, he said: “I have always believed technology can greatly help in solving issues related to hunger, and through this launch, we will bring technology, logistics, IT, and the involvement of the local community to feed their own community.”

Describing IFBN as ‘an effort to bring the government, private sector, and NGOs together to fight hunger and malnutrition in the country', Mr. Pitroda said the food banks are being set up to help create a converging space for the government, the private sector, civil society and NGOs, to channel their key capabilities towards a common mission: social and economic development through hunger relief management.

With the implementation of the Delhi Food Bank, IFBN would get on its hands the first model, which it would seek to modify, strengthen and replicate at a national level, so that by 2020, every district of India has access to a Food Bank.

At the launch of the Delhi Food Bank, it was also stated that it would work with a simple process. On receiving information regarding a donor, or on being contacted by a donor who wants to offer food, DFBN would contact the logistics partner to pick up the donated products from the donor location and deliver them to the DFB Network warehouse, which would serve a number of institutional feeding programmes.

The food products would then be collected by organisations running feeding programmes from the Delhi Food Bank warehouse, to aid their beneficiaries.

Ms. Dikshit, who along with Mr. Pitroda also launched websites of the India Food Bank Network and the Delhi Food Bank and their toll-free helpline number 58888 for integrating the donors and seekers of food, said the Delhi Government has also been reaching out to citizens, especially the needy, with safe and wholesome food programmes ‘ Aap ki Rasoi ' and ‘ Janahaar '. Apart from this, she said it approved in the recent Delhi Budget, the implementation of the Delhi Annashri Yojana , under which cash transfer subsidy would be provided to nearly 6 lakh poor families at the rate of Rs. 600 per month.

The establishment of the Food Banking Network “is a great initiative towards the eradication of food hunger”, Ms. Dikshit said, and appreciated the work of individuals and organisations that are “making a real difference in the lives of many with their generous support.”

The Chief Minister said the Delhi Government will also sign a memorandum of understanding with the India Food Banking Network to facilitate the functioning of the Delhi Food Bank.

Holding out that “the community must take an active role in feeding its hungry population,” she said the Delhi Government would like to have details from the India Food Banking Network, so that hungry people could be approached properly with the help of volunteers. She also announced that a separate website of the Delhi Food Bank would be launched in order to make available all information easily.