One of the dichotomies of a rapidly flourishing cosmopolitan city like Mumbai is the uneven distribution of opulence, luxuries and basic amenities. Hunger is the most dreadful sight one can ever imagine in a civilized world. Several statistics show that more than 2 lakh children living on the streets and in the slums of Mumbai go without food every day. The city’s most efficient and legendary lunch delivery network, the Dabbawalas, comes to their rescue to fight hunger.
The fate of more than 2.5 lakhs Mumbaikars lies in the hands of these Dabbawalas or the lunch delivery men. Regardless of the scorching sun or heavy downpour, the dabbawalas could be seen all around the city delivering lunch boxes. A six sigma certified network, the efficiency rate of these dabbawalas is a whopping 99.99%. However, it has been estimated that a staggering amount of food (not less than 16 tons) goes into the waste every day. The dabbawala association of Mumbai has tied up with more than 35 wedding planners and caterers so as to collect the surplus food left in the weddings and parties and distribute them amongst the deprived. The initiative known as the ‘Roti Bank’ feeds the hungry dwellers and street children of Mumbai. The dabbawalas operate a 24×7 helpline so as to assist the individuals and organizations with the distribution of leftover food. Their compassion makes them work for extra hours after their regular work schedule, facilitating the collection and the distribution of food.
Owing to their belief of feeding every hungry individual, the dabbawala association, alongside the Happy Welfare Society, decided to use the leftover food and distribute it amongst the hungry and poor children and hence the ‘Share My Dabba’ campaign began. The Share My Dabba or sharing your lunchbox initiative is an innovative campaign that aims to use the existing network of the dabbawalas to feed the less fortunate children of Mumbai, thousands of whom die of hunger every day. The campaign seeks to make use of the leftover food in the lunchboxes and distributing them to the thousands of hungry street children. The Share My Dabba campaign started in the Crawford Market of Mumbai. Volunteers of Happy Welfare Society went door to door, to shops and markets and made them aware of the idea of sharing their lunch. Several stickers were distributed with the label ‘share’. Those who wanted to share their lunchboxes stuck the sticker on the top, so that the dabbawalas who came back to collect the tiffins could easily make out the tiffin with leftovers. The volunteers reached the point where the dabbawalas mostly gathered and collected the food left in the tiffins in separate big containers and went on to distribute it amongst the hungry children across Mumbai.
The criminal wastage of food during weddings, parties and events is an agonizing sight. Our country may boast of several developments and technologies but it is still struggling to fight hunger. The stark disparity between the rich and the poor is extremely painful and the economic divide is glaring. The Dabbawalas, despite their tight schedule, work for feeding the poor street children of Mumbai. The internationally renowned network of dabbawalas has been constantly working day and night with the firm belief of eating together, putting things together and living together to make our country a better place to live in.