With one of the fastest growing economies, India is a country which is racing toward constant improvement in life expectancy, literacy rates and health conditions. However, of the 1.2 billion inhabitants of the country, the conditions of those living in the poorest regions are still difficult. Despite its status as an economic power, mortal malnutrition persists. Every evening in India, 200 million people try to fall asleep despite the gnawing hunger. And every day, 3,000 children die of hunger. In Mumbai, where thousands of people go for cancer treatments, Sunny of the Focolare community, wrote: “During the treatments, the families sleep on the road or around the hospital, in the lack of all necessities.” This is an alarming situation of poverty, especially if compared with the data related to the growing waste of perfectly whole foodstuffs, thrown away at the end of wedding banquets, rites, and family parties. The country is one of the world’s main producers of foodstuff, but is likewise one in which a good part of these goods are wasted. Among the causes are also the shortage of transport and warehousing systems especially the “cold chain” system: according to estimates in 2017 of the Indian Ministry of Agriculture, the value of the losses connected to foodstuff wastes (not only in terms of farming goods and foodstuffs, but also in the use of water and energy) could range between 8 and 15 billion dollars yearly.
From 2017 onward the nonprofit RotiBank has been working to gather food rejects or those freshly prepared from food companies, like hotels or cafeterias, and involving them in a safe way in the slums or for homeless people.
“Roti” is a typical, round Indian bread, from a dough of whole-bran flour and water, baked also on stones. After having received a van as a gift, RotiBank is now working to increase the number of vehicles and staff. Many of the people benefited are children or labourers who do not get a minimum salary to be able to survive. The non-profit initiative avails of a chain of volunteers who, after their normal work hours, participate in the collection and distribution of leftover food. “It is essential – the presentation of the initiative says – to redistribute the leftovers, and perfectly edible food intended for the dumpsite, to people who are really in need.”
Sunny explained: “We decided to start our battle with an awareness afternoon in support of this non-profit organisation. About 45 members of the Mumbai Focolare community placed themselves at disposal to serve the meals. It was an occasion for us to verify our own shopping methods, and realise that every day we can put something aside to allow these families to have their lunch. It was moving to see how many people were waiting to receive a bit of food. One of the participants said: “I’m so happy to be part of this experience. I shall never forget the expression on the faces of the people queueing up.”
Perhaps all of us should see it.