An unusual food bank in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, which feeds the poor and the hungry with fresh food supplied by its ‘depositors’ has seen its membership double in less than two months of being operational.
This initiative has been launched by 38-year-old Yusuf Mukati, who opened the doors of the bank on 5 December with 250 members. Depositors had to fill out a form with their details and were given a specific code, which is akin to a bank account. The details of the depositor are stored under this number. As the founder of the Haroon Mukati Islamic Centre in Aurangabad, Mukati already had a long list of contacts. So when he bounced the idea of a Roti Bank off them, he found that people were quite keen to contribute. As a rule, this bank only deals in freshly cooked food items.
The Bank is open from 11 am to 11 pm. Each of its members has to deposit two chappatis and either a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian preparation. There is no bar on the number of times this can be done. Once the food comes in, helpers segregate the vegetarian and non-vegetarian food and repack it in plastic bags and containers.
This free food is handed out to all those who come to the Bank’s counters. Leftover food is frozen for reuse the next day. In case there is excess food, Mukati distributes it amongst his staffers.
Mukati grew up in a family of modest means where food was a dear commodity. He says, “Seeing poor and hungry people is a common sight. People feed them, but it is never fresh food. I wanted to create a place where people can get fresh food at no cost. It is not just beggars who go hungry. There are so many among the middle-class who have to forgo meals due to rising costs.”