Updated: Jun 27, 2021
Story by Malleshwar Rao
After an intense bout with poverty, under the suggestion of one of my friends, I started working as a caterer at several places with my friends, to counter my poverty.
However, since we did all this in off-hours in the evenings, and our college did not permit students inside, through the gate in the evenings, we had to sleep at the bus-stands, in plight of our hunger, on many days.
I once even begged at the bus-stand for food, suffering from severe internal hunger cramps.
But I was dismissed and kicked at.
However, I did not lose hope, and I kept up my daily work. This gave me enough money to buy my stationery, and it saved me from the regular punishments at college at least.
Once we got an opportunity to cater at an event hosting a celebrity, and usually at such ‘high-class’ events, the people eat really less just as a formality. A lot of food was left over. We got lucky. After feeding ourselves, I suggested that we should distribute the remaining food to the poor on the roads. I was criticized by many friends.
“Hume khud ke paas khane ke liye nahi rehta, aur Mother Teresa ban na hain tujhe”
However, after an intense discussion, we decided to help out the poor by making 600-700 packets and distributed it among them.
On that day, I went up to the beggar I used to see at the bus stand where I slept before, and offered him food. The moment he saw the food, without washing hands, he just tore the packet and started eating wildly. He ate two packets by himself. The way he ate made me feel like he was earlier almost on the verge of death.
Moments like these, and my own experience with hunger had moved me greatly. I wanted to do more for these people in need.
After some regular work of distributing food, I founded a group while I was still in college, called ‘Don’t Waste Food’ which had the sole objective of relocating food which would have otherwise been wasted at catering services/households, to the poor people in need. We even checked the food to see if it was stale. I made the decision that there would be no monetary profit which this group would seek. I slowly grew my network, and worked on this everyday in my off-hours.
Soon, I grew my impact and I started being noticed. To my surprise, my group became a movement, and many joined with me. It became a symbol of hope for those in need. Even transport companies started to lend me their cars for free for my delivery purposes.
Today, my group transports food from almost 10,000 sources every week, to feed the people in Hyderabad. My group has grown to several other cities as well, in the form of a movement. I was mentioned by PM Modi, Anand Mahindra and several other renowned people and I also received several awards for my work, in feeding the poor. I was also in the top 4 on the Google trending list, in December 2020.
Don’t Waste Food will soon be registered as an NGO and now the group also helps the poor with many other essentials.
Food to me, is like a mother. It nourishes you in every way, and the lack of it convolves into suffering.
In my journey, I think the most important thing has been hope. If we have the hope that things may be better tomorrow, it saves us from today’s suffering. My hope gave me life, and today because of my life, there are many other lives which are building hope for this world.