ICMR data reveals that eateries in the city dispose of an average of 1.25 lakh kilogrammes of excess food every day. This amount of food could easily provide two square meals to over 1 lakh adults on a daily basis. The issue of leftover food at eateries is becoming increasingly problematic, as it poses a significant challenge to civic authorities. Most of this excess food ends up in garbage bins and storm water drains, which in turn pollutes rivers and exposes people to a range of health issues.
As per the information provided, the rise in food waste collection is mainly attributed to fast-paced urbanization. In 2022, more than 1.1 lakh kilogrammes of food waste from restaurants on a daily basis were gathered. It is worth noting that big restaurants that produce over 100 tonnes of waste per day, including leftover food, have their own processing units. However, we only collect waste from standalone eateries and not from hawkers and roadside stalls. In 2021, twenty-three villages were brought under the PMC limits, while eleven were added in 2017.
As per the information received, India’s child wasting rate of 18.7% in the global hunger index (GHI) 2023 highlights the importance of addressing the issue of wasted food. Child wasting specifically refers to the condition where a child is undernourished and too thin for their height, either due to recent rapid weight loss or the inability to gain weight.
The Robin Hood Army in Pune, along with other NGOs, has been actively working to significantly reduce food waste. Their approach involves collecting leftover food from canteens and hostels, as well as receiving donations from restaurants. The collected food is then distributed among underprivileged individuals.
Many restaurant owners say that it is their internal policy not to distribute any leftover food, even to the staff. The concern is that if someone consumes the food without being aware of its shelf life, they may suffer from food poisoning. Occasionally, there may be leftover vegetables, which are then discarded. This is why they strive to prepare the food according to the customer’s specific requests.
The Robin Hood Army frequently receives requests from restaurants to collect their leftover food. The food waste documented by PMC is an outcome of negligence from individuals and even restaurants.