I know a bunch of NGOs have made small / scattered attempts in this direction – of collecting excess food from wedding venues and giving it away to the needy.
The efforts are minimally organized, driven by volunteers and not high on scale or sophistication. Appeals to Indians to be frugal with their weddings and menu spreads aren’t likely to get far. What might work however, is a more savvy approach to managing the waste better.
Here’s a thought on the flow :
- Setup a basic website that allows a user to take a pledge to donate excess food from his wedding.
- If people can pledge to donate their eyes, sure they can pledge to donate excess food
- Let them enter venue, date, time to pickup, expected number of guests.
- Add a voluntary donation of Rs. 5 – 10k to support the collection and distribution of the food. In the multi-million rupee wedding budget, this would be a pittance.
- Setup a pick up and drop vehicle via services like theporter – pay per use, easy to book.
- Maintain an inventory of food containers that would be filled up by the caterer’s people themselves.
- Ideally, borrow these containers from the caterers themselves for the night.
- Or use some kind of disposables
- Or get them picked up from the community that’s expected to get the food.
- Community Management
- Identify clusters of people / orphanages / locations, tag them with the number of people, precise location
- Appoint local co-ordinators in the cluster/community whose job is to take the delivery of the food, ensure fair distribution of the food and clean up and safe return of the containers. He should be able to organize volunteers from within the community.
- Guide the driver to drop the food at the predetermined target location
- Avoid going to the same location daily, you don’t want people to become dependent on this
- Maximize usage, taking the right quantity to the right destination, sometimes splitting the food between multiple locations
- If needed, engage with local cold storage operators who can keep the food for the night, if it’s really late and the food will be spoilt by the next morning. It can be figured out / planned in advance.
- They may offer the space for free / need some convincing to open at random hours, but ultimately, they’d have low level staff who’d have a heart and be willing to do this.
- If co-ordinated well, this can be managed in a rather lean way, leveraging existing staff and resources.
- The only operating costs involved are the vehicle and the containers, perhaps some tips to the catering staff for the fill-up.
- People would share their pledge on social media
- People would refer their due-to-be-married friends to take this pledge when they know about weddings/events/parties.
- Wedding caterers and event managers would recommend the service to parties they’re serving
- Whoever’s taken the pledge, or heard about it – would hopefully be more cautious about piling up his plate at the next wedding he attends!
- You might just run an Ad campaign on all the wedding-shopping related sites and optimize the Cost per Pledge here! Even if it costs Rs. 1000 per pledge, it’ll be worth it.
- Can possibly expand into getting restaurant owners and star Hotels to pledge their daily excess food.
My belief is that people would love to help out if you don’t expect them to go through a lot of hassle in the process of helping out. Now all they need to do is register and they feel good, they’re seen as ‘thoughtful’ people in their social circles and it all works out.
A small control center team can monitor pick ups / drops and make sure no weddings are getting missed!
I respect volunteering and NGOs, but I like it much better when initiatives can sustain themselves, pay a few salaries and be super efficient on costs by using technology. Doing good doesn’t have to mean it can’t be done nicely.
These guys in the US seem to be doing a pretty decent job and making it look good too!