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Mumbai’s lunchbox delivery men to feed poor on streets

Dabbawalas sorting tiffin lunch boxes before delivery in front of Churchgate railway station.

Mumbai: Hundreds of lunchbox delivery men or dabbawalas here started a new initiative called ‘Roti (bread) Bank’ on Tuesday to help distribute leftover food from mass gatherings like weddings to the poor.

Under the initiative, the lunchbox delivery men have tied up with caterers and wedding planners to serve the city’s needy.

“The caterers called us and said that lot of food gets wasted when big events are organised. So these left over can be packed and given to lunchbox delivery men who can take them to the poor. This is a social work,” said spokesperson of Dabbawala Association, Subhash Talekar.

He added that any individual or event organiser could contact the lunchbox delivery men on the helpline number 919867221310 and schedule a ‘pick-up’ of leftover food.

Dabbawalas in Mumbai have for decades collected hot lunches from customers’ often distant homes and, using a complex delivery system and overladen bicycles, carried them to offices and schools across the city.

Babusaheb, a lunchbox delivery man, said that he would collect food and distribute it among pavement dwellers, slum residents and anyone living below the breadline.

“Instead of the food being thrown into gutters, the dabbawalas will pick them up and give it to the poor sitting on streets, near kiosks, building and feed them,” said Babusaheb

Mumbai’s dabbawalas – often semi-literate men – deliver about 200,000 “tiffin”, or lunch, boxes every day, according to their website. (ANI)