A teacher who collects, cooks food to feed the poor

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 28 Jan 2019 09:02:19


 

By Milinda Ghosh Roy,


KOLKATA,


Chandra Sekhar Kundu, the founder of Food, Education and Economic Development (FEED), collects excess untouched food from college and office canteens everyday and distributes it among nearly 200 poor children from Kolkata and Asansol

WHILE the habit of wasting food at festivities, parties or even at household dinners has become an increasingly callous trend in urban living, a computer science teacher from West Bengal’s Asansol is working diligently to put a leash on food wastage and save hundreds from hunger.
Chandra Sekhar Kundu, the founder of Food, Education and Economic Development (FEED), collects excess untouched food from college and office canteens everyday and distributes it among nearly 200 poor children from Kolkata and Asansol.


Apart from supplying the daily meal to the underfed for the last four years, Kundu and his associates cook fresh food every night for street children in at least three places in Asansol and provides them necessary lessons on food education and nutrition. “So many people in our nation stay hungry. It is not possible for us to feed them all but at least if we stop wasting food and give away the excess to those who need it, I feel we can prevent many from spending another night on an empty stomach,” said Kundu, also called the ‘food-man’ by many in his neighbourhood.


“I did an RTI on food wastage in 2016 and found out that around 22,000 crore tonnes of foodgrain is wasted in India every year. If we can save only 10 percent of that, it would be enough to match our Government’s arrangements for mid-day meals each year,” he said. Kundu’s life changed forever on the night of his son Srideep’s birthday party in 2015 when he went outside to dump some spare food and found two street children scavenging for pieces of chicken from a dustbin.


“Pained by the sight, I brought them to my home and provided them whatever we could arrange. I felt extremely guilty for throwing away the excess dishes minutes ago and wondered why I never gave it much of a thought before. I could not sleep that night,” he reminisced. Within a few months of the incident, Kundu made a short film on food wastage to raise awareness on the issue. The effort was largely appreciated by his colleagues and students at the Asansol Engineering College.


Kick-starting his tirade against the food wasters, he set up an NGO named ‘Bengal Save Food and Save Life Brigade’ with his team of students and fellow teachers from the college, who initially collected the extra food from  the college canteen and fed 15 to 20 poor children dwelling in Asansol station.


“We formed FEED in 2016 and approached the canteen owners of a number of educational institutions and offices in Asansol and Kolkata. Today we have tie-ups with the CISF barracks in Asansol, IIM Calcutta and a few other offices under a project called ‘Commitment 365 days’ where the canteens of the respective organisations provide us their excess food on a daily basis. “We provide day meals to around 180 street children every day with this food,” Kundu said. The street children living under the Gariahat flyover in South Kolkata and a slum in Joka, among other places, are the beneficiaries of the scheme.