School dropout Shivakumar feeds 1000s of the poor and hungry with leftover wedding food
The sight of large amounts of pulao being mindlessly thrown into a lorry on West of Chord Road near Rajajinagar, Bengaluru, became ‘food for thought’ for RB Shivakumar. It turned out that it was leftover food from a wedding, heading to the garbage dump. That was sixteen years ago. Shivakumar, 41, gets calls from all over city – from convention halls, parties and hotels – to pick up leftover food. He ensures that not a morsel is wasted and distributes it to the needy.
“It took some serious thinking before I decided to start picking up left over food,” Shivakumar, who runs a family-owned store in Rajajinagar, said. “What people warned me about initially was that the food may become stale and infected. But I just couldn’t bear the sight of lavish food going to the piggeries” added Shivakumar.
A 2011 report by the University of Agricultural Sciences pointed out that food worth Rs 400 crore is wasted every year at marriage halls and choultries in Bengaluru. Shivakumar’s own estimate is that food enough to feed 150 people is wasted at each function. “It is common sense. Why stuff a person’s plate with over two kilograms of food when he requires 500 grams?” The Class 10 dropout tastes food before agreeing to pick it up. Shivakumar plans to construct a cold storage facility that can store food for 10,000 people, reports The Economic Times.
Shivakumar is usually busy from January to June and from August to December. “On the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, I received 120 phone calls asking me to take leftover food from halls. I collected the food from 40 halls and distributed it to around 28,000 slum dwellers.
“I also distribute the leftover food at old-age homes and orphanages. I collect leftover food from at least 10 marriage halls a day during the marriage season,” he said.
Now, Shivakumar wants to extend his service to other parts of Bangalore, and also across the state. “It is simply not fair to waste food when many people wait for a few morsels. I will assist those who want to start a similar service in their areas,” he said, adding that he has also been supplying drinking water at 80 bus stands and has constructed 20 bus shelters. “I have asked my employees to plant two saplings a day and water them every day. The forest department has assured me that they would supply 1,000 saplings,” he said in a report in The New Indian Express.
Recently, Think Change India carried a story of a couple in Maharastra who downsized their daughter’s wedding and donated Rs 6 lakh to needy farmers.