They call themselves the Robininhood Army (RHA). Not with arms and ammunitions, but with packet full of food, they greet the hungry on different streets across the world, including the national capital.
A dedicated network of volunteers makes it a point to visit restaurants in their vicinity to collect leftover food every Sunday. This food then makes its way to slums, streets and orphanages of Delhi where the starving thousands relish it.
“We have covered almost every South Delhi and Ring road flyover and many slum areas of the city, excluding some parts like Dwarka. Generally, in South Delhi the team heads towards AIIMS first as we know that there are many outstation patients and their relatives waiting for food,” strategy and operations consultant Akshay Mahajan who has been volunteering with the organisation since 2015, said.
The noble initiative started in Delhi in August 2014 with a team of six people. Now, around 500 volunteers in seven chapters across the city—North Delhi chapter, South Delhi chapter, East Delhi chapter, West Delhi chapter, North campus chapter, Lady Sri Ram chapter and Jamia Millia Islamia chapter—feed an average of 2000 people on Sundays.
The RHA has partnered with multiple restaurants, including Lord of the Drinks in Connaught Place and Kailash Colony’s Sanjha Chulha, which they frequent for collecting food. Sanjha Chulha, one of their oldest partners, in fact makes it a point to cook food for 100 individuals separately on Sundays which the Robins distribute.
A captain is selected every week in each chapter who decides which areas to cover depending on the availability of food. One rule which the RHA strictly follows is that no stale or rotten food is served to anybody. In order to make it possible, they directly visit the respective areas where they have to serve the poor after leaving the restaurants, fixing a time limit of 90 minutes for the entire process.
“There is never a situation when there is no food available. However, every week, internal contributions are made. Generally, all of us pitch in for 15–20 meals. On an average, we get 2–3 requests per week for donations which we refuse to take,” Mahajan said, adding that they are making an effort to cover more areas of the city as new volunteers are joining the team.
While the zero-funded organisation primarily focuses on food, each chapter also has the freedom to start other initiatives simultaneously. Last winters, for instance, around 2,000 blankets were distributed in Delhi and many volunteers also teach kids in the slums.
“The RHA is not about merely giving meals; it is about serving people and spreading smiles. There are no dearth of people who want to create a difference, they just need a platform. That is why it is so important for us to share the RHA with as many people as possible,” Neel Ghosh, co-founder of RHA said.
The organisation is the brainchild of Ghosh and Anand Sinha. Today, it has spread its wings in others parts of the country and Pakistan, Philippines, Australia and Indonesia as well. “There are incidents every day which touch us in the RHA. I can’t honestly pinpoint one. Every time I see kids in the street eagerly looking forward for our Robins coming to meet them and spending time, it is moving and I realise this needs to happen everywhere,” Ghosh said.
Ghosh feels that India needs to make “Right to Food” a reality and calls it “the most basic of rights” asserting that “any other fundamental right is of no use to a person who is hungry”. While the privileged, eat and waste, without any remorse, the alert army is busy fighting the two global enemies—food wastage and food crisis. Undoubtedly, with new goals and more Robins they will continue to bring light in ghettoes and fill many more plates and spread more smiles.
Follow their journey here.