Even in the darkest of hours, a visionary sees light and hope and believes change is possible. Padmanaban Gopalan, a man who has inspired and motivated the society by making the impossible possible is one such example. He has a firm belief that every complex problem has simple solutions. A dynamic and passionate lad of 22 years, Padmanaban Gopalan is the founder of No Food Waste, an organization that helps in distributing the surplus amount of food left after parties and weddings to the deprived and needy people of Coimbatore.
Every ambitious person in India wants to be an entrepreneur, but only a few would love to feed someone. As a college student, Padmanaban Gopalan observed that immense amount of food goes to the waste after any social gathering, wedding or event in the city. The thought of lakhs of people sleeping hungry in the city without even one course of meal a day alarmed young Padmanaban. An inquisitive Padmanaban, on further research, found out that a staggering amount of good quality (9,50,000 kilograms !) food goes to landfills every year in his own city, Coimbatore.
Padmanaban Gopalan and his two friends, Dinesh and Sudhakar, started an initiative ‘No Food Waste’. The initiative aimed at feeding the hungry and poor people of Coimbatore. The firm determination to ensure food security for all motivated him to stop food wastage in his city.
Padmanaban and his friends went on to contact several wedding planners, caterers, hotels and food retailers and requested them to donate the surplus food to their NGO, helping them in feeding the less fortunate. With time, the volunteer support also increased which helped the collection, packaging and distribution of food easier. The NGO also maintains a hotline to stay in contact with several banquet halls and caterers. People can easily contact the team of No Food Waste to donate the surplus leftovers. Till date, Padmanaban and his team have donated more than 7100 meals to various families and individuals. A committed Padmanaban wants to expand his initiative with the aim of feeding more than 5000 people every month. The team No Food Waste is also planning to launch a mobile application that would help citizens to inform the team and help in locating and identifying areas where food can be donated.
The effort by Padmanaban, Sudhakar and Dinesh also received support from a United States-based NGO named Pollination Project. No Food Waste was selected as the best initiative by Pollination Project among the several other notable campaigns promoting human rights, animal advocacy and women empowerment. The team of No Food Waste was granted an amount of $1000. The NGO used this amount to feed the poor and spread their volunteer base to other cities as well. No Food Waste works efficiently in five cities of India other than Coimbatore. The team even launched a campaign, ‘Zero Hunger Hours’ on World Food Day to feed thousands of hungry people.
Padmanaban Gopalan surely inspired many of our countrymen with his vision and strong will power. His compassion and efforts to solve the problems of the society is commendable. Padmanaban believes that his objective would only be accomplished when he would need to close his NGO, the day when no child or person is left hungry. With his indomitable courage and resolution, the day is not far when Padmanaban would conquer hunger.