There is a gap between food being wasted and it is provided to hundreds going hungry. The Robin Hood Army (RHA) works consistently to bridge that gap in Vizag.
Take from the rich and give to the poor. This is the concept through which the Robin Hood Army operates. Albeit not with money, as the legend goes, but with food. With a 100-member strong team in Vizag, mainly comprising of young students and employees, this team of ‘Robins’, as they call themselves, is doing their valuable bit to make a difference.
The Army, founded in Delhi in 2014 by Neil Ghosh, has spread its presence across many Indian cities, and Pakistan as well. The concept here was simple yet impactful.
Food wastage was stopped at the source, by collections from those who had excess; and was immediately distributed to the poor and hungry. In Vizag the concept was started by Satya and Tanya in 2016, who were students of GITAM, wanting to work for a social cause.
On October 2, they got together with Mithra, an avid social activist, and a few more friends, cooked food and then distributed it to the needy. This marked their first successful drive in the city. Hotels were soon roped in and a partnership with Swiggy gave them instant updates on cancelled orders, or excess food left, in hotels. As soon as one of the “Robins” would receive information, he or she would pick up the food from the hotel, check it for quality and freshness, pack and finally distribute it to the hungry.
The requisites for joining this army are simple. An intent for contributing to the cause, and being available for a few hours every week to do so, is all that’s needed. Once in, members are placed under the Visakhapatnam-East or Visakhapatnam-West groups. Here they have to be available on an ad hoc basis, and when news of food availability at a particular source comes up, the “Robins” pitch in to pick and donate, an action usually taken up in the next half hour.
Besides the ad hoc supply that covers different sections of the city, RHA also conducts regular drives every weekend. Donors are contacted for collecting items such as buns and biscuits. A regular donor, from Visalakshi Nagar, also supplies milk for this weekly drive. The collected items are then taken to the KGH Hospital Children’s Ward and distributed.
Sunday involves both morning and evening drives, where the group reaches out to a larger set of people. Besides food, this group also takes up teaching drives, a holi-celebration drive at Shantiashram, the Christmas drive as well as a blanket distribution drive.
Their activity, in their respective groups, is carefully monitored by the main team leads, who are a part of the groups – pan India. In fact, the main team also gets bigger deals in place. Regular drives are also a part of spreading awareness on the work this group does. A sticker drive was undertaken by them, where they approached restaurants and roped them in for food donations.
“The satisfaction that comes from feeding the hungry is immeasurable” shares Jhansi, who’s been a Robin hood army member for one year now. Her most treasured memories are the KFC Chicken buckets and pizza boxes that she’s handed out to the kids.
“Their pure delight at receiving this was enough. In fact, some of them told me that they wanted to try the Thickshakes, and we got them those as well”, she shares. She also talks about how her second drive, sponsored by Zomato, was a big hit. Having distributed food from noon to night, it was heartening that they were feeding so many people who were about to sleep hungry. Some told them to give the food elsewhere as they had already eaten. This itself was quite heartening, while others who hadn’t eaten for two days, blessed their group.
Anyone who has a few hours to spare every week can volunteer with the RHA. Donations, in kind, such as food, books, clothes or blankets are also welcome. While the group looks forth to more restaurants joining their cause, they also urge individuals to spread the word or celebrate their birthdays with the underprivileged, which they can organise.
All in all, years ago it took a band of merry men to do good for the poor. Today, it is a much larger group of men and women who are carrying forward the same emotion in a different way.
To volunteer get in touch through robinhoodarmy.com/join/