Food

How The Robin Hood Army served food to five million people across India and Pakistan

This Independence Day, The Robin Hood Army worked towards providing food for five million people across India and Pakistan. Here’s how they did it

Teams in 110 cities, including Karachi in Pakistan, got together. They set their targets, made plans, sourced material. The final goal of #Mission5, the fifth Independence Day campaign since The Robin Hood Army took shape, was to serve five million citizens across 500 villages in five days.

On the morning of August 15, with most of the final day left to go, 3.5 million citizens had been reached, by a rough estimate, informs co-founder Aarushi Batra over phone from Delhi, adding that finals numbers would only be in by August 16.

“Our teams in each of these cities identified five villages around them, did a count of the families and their members, and raised ration accordingly,” she says. By “ration”, she means wheat, grains and pulses — “Real food, not the condiments. We calculated that a kilo of these would be enough to serve eight people for a day.” The volunteer-based initiative usually tries to serve hot meals to the underprivileged in urban spaces, but this year, they departed from the norm in two ways.

 

Their first departure was in terms of location. “Our chapters are still located in cities, but this time, we really wanted to go into the interiors of the country,” says Aarushi. This decision was largely a reaction to the series of environmental tragedies plaguing different parts of the country in recent weeks. “In any catastrophe, the villages and hinterlands are the worst hit. And it is invariably here that help reaches last,” she states, adding, “So in addition to this campaign, we are also collecting relief material for Maharashtra, Karnataka and Assam.” Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati, Sangli and Jaipur are a few of the centres focussing mainly on relief and aid.

Their second departure is in the food itself: the organisation has built its reputation on the hot meals (either freshly cooked or sourced as discards from restaurants) that it would provide to the needy. But in this case, they are opting for packaged grains. These are much more practical to both gather and transport, considering the larger distance between the collection spots and distribution spots.

“A lot of our robins put up ‘bags of hope’ in offices and other places, for people to contribute what they can,” says Aarushi, “A huge help to us was the K Corp Foundation, which donated 60,000 kilograms of food grains on its own.”

 

The logistics, of course, varied from robin to robin and from centre to centre, depending on distance, quantity of food and the number of volunteers they had to lend a hand. “Some of them hired buses or trucks to transport the food. Others could tie up with transport companies that heard about our target and were eager to help out. Many just used their personal vehicles,” says Aarushi. While it was predominantly ration items that was distributed, the teams were hopeful of being able to arrange some fresh-cooked meals as well. “It’s Independence Day, so a number of small restaurants feel motivated to help out,” she says.

The Robin Hood Army is present in 140 cities across 12 countries. It does not accept donations. To volunteer, visit www.robinhoodarmy.com

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An earlier version of this story referred to K Corp Foundation incorrectly. The error is regretted.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 10:07:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/an-army-of-solidarity/article29101575.ece

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