Bhubaneswar: In a bid to suppress hunger from the state, So Am I Foundation (SAI) Trust not-for-profit social organization under its Hunger-free Odisha initiative inaugurated of Odisha’s first Food Bank located at Acharya Vihar, Bhubaneswar. Ms. Padmini Sahoo, IPS, Dy. Commissioner of Police Bhubaneswar – Cuttack along with Padmashree Debiprasanna Pattnayak, Noted Linguist and Former Addi. Secretary, MHRD graced the occasion as chief guests. The basic objective of the initiative is to fight against hunger and malnutrition and control food wastage in the state by channelizing excess food from individuals, weddings, restaurants, corporate offices and reach to the people who really need it and have no means or access to food.
Speaking on the initiative, Pinaki Mohanty, Founder of So AM I (SAI) said, “India stands first in hunger list globally where Odisha also continues to be one of the poorest states with 1/6th of its population deprived of sufficient food. Around 250 million Indians go to bed hungry every night in India. Keeping this in mind we at SAI have come up with an initiative ensuring no individual in the state is deprived of food.”
The process of controlling the food bank has been made systematically. One can donate the excess food from parties, etc. or at restaurants that is extra. To donate one has to make phone call to SAI and bring the excess food to the nearest located food bank. If one cannot come then the volunteer will reach and collect the food. The food is preserved it in food banks in very hygienic and systematic manner. SAI distributes the foods after making those hot in the SAI’s kitchen and serve to the needy people close by through its volunteers SAI preserves food in its freezer at its food Bank. The freezers installed have big containers to preserve the excess foods, spread across Bhubaneswar. Initially it has some up in Acharya Vihar and is planning next food banks at Rasulgharh and Forest Park respectively.
Apart from this one can also create food bank in the name of your grandparents/ parents or loved ones for which one has donate a big freezes @Rs 80,000 and operating and manangement cost @ Rs 48,000 per annum.
The idea of starting Food Bank came to the mind of Pinaki Mohanty, once he felt aghast too see people suffering out of starvation in a chilled winter night in 2016. Since then he made up his mind to help the underprivileged fight against hunger. The Co-Founder Dr. Chidatmika Khatua an well-known Social Activist joined this mission and led the team to a movement on hunger free Odisha.
The state Odisha continues to be one of the most backward and poorest states in spite of its rich natural and human potential. The disaster and emergencies compound the poverty. Almost 8% children are severely affected malnourished (SAM) and 30% children fall under Grade I-IV malnutrition. The infant mortality rate (IMR) is 40 and the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is 237. Only 54.9% children between 6-8 months receive solid and semi solid food and breast milk and 8.9% children age 6-23 months receive an adequate diet. 51% of women age 15-49 years and 44.6% children 6-59 months are anemic in the state.
SAI’s objective is to kill hunger from Odisha making it hunger-free by 2025. The organization is further planning to establish a strong and efficient network of Food Banks across Odisha so that every district has access to at least one food Bank by 2025.
The organization has been dedicatedly working towards development of underprivileged since inception. In 2014, SAI started with a unique Children’s Workshop on Life Skill comprising 90% under privileged children and the rest 10% are from the elite class. Every year, these workshops are being organized in Bhubaneswar and Baripad. SAI started distributing foods since 2017, to the children in different slums of Bhubaneswar in every 2nd or 3rd Saturday under the program called “Aise Gagan ke Tale”.