Coimbatore Boys’ No Food Waste Initiative Has Transformed Many Lives In The City

Himanshu Kumar

Before telling the story of these young social entrepreneurs, let us see the figures India has. India is the home to the largest undernourished and hungry population in the world. As per a survey

194.6 million people go hungry everyday

15.2% of our population is undernourished

1 in every 4 children is malnourished

3000 children die every day from poor diet related illness

30.7% of our children under five years of age are underweight

58% children are stunted by 2 years of age

30% of all neo-natal deaths across the globe takes place in India

Such heart breaking figures with a total of 84 billionaires (India ranked 5th in the number of billionaires worldwide) is a matter of shame for the nation.

Agriculture produce to the tune of Rs. 58,000 crore (almost 40% of the total produce) was wasted every year in the country. What an irony!


via- quora

So, here are the three lads in their 20s from the metro city of Chennai- Padmnaban Gopalan, Hari and Dinesh, popularly known as PHD. They are working hard to provide foods to the needy. In 2015, they won an international grant from “The Pollination Project” for their NGO named “No Food Waste” which focuses on collecting excess food from events and restaurants and then distributing it among the poor and needy.


Padmnaban, Hari and Dinesh

via- www. thepollinationproject.org

“One day a gaunt elderly lady, emaciated to the bones in a torn saree, approached me for alms, just as I left a wedding reception hall where food was carelessly discarded on used plates simply because the guests could not finish. I couldn’t stand by and watch anymore. I had to do something about it”said Padmanaban when asked about the idea of starting the project.

After graduating, he and his friends started SPICE (Society Promoting Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship) with an objective to encourage to create a greener world.  Padmanaban interacted with many schools in Coimbatore and was shocked to discover that each day 12 to 18 kgs of food were thrown into the dustbin. He figured out that a school with 1200 students had an average waste of 3875 kgs of edible food in one year.  

Padmanaban’s first awareness campaign was conducted at Carmel Garden School. The purpose was to make the school a ‘zero food waste campus’. And hence the journey of a hundred mile begun with a single step.

Ever since then, they run a volunteer-staffed hotline for wedding, banquet and school organizers who want to donate their excess food. 


Food being packed for distribution


Winning the grant was a boost to their confidence and financial stability of the NGO. $1,000 prize money helped them establish and expand the initiative to the entire city. Prior to this, the trio used to spend their own pocket money to package and deliver food.

To date, No Food Waste has fed thousands of people in orphanages, homeless communities, shelter homes and low-income neighborhoods. He also worked with more than 110 schools, institutions and organizations to conduct “food waste audits” to monitor and guide them in reducing waste generation.

When asked what makes Padmanaban proud, he said, “If I would have gone for a different job after graduating from college, I could have only fed the four members of my family. But when I think that I have fed thousands of people, it gives me a great inner happiness and there are no words to express this feeling”.

The trio has done a great work by addressing the issue of food, the basic necessity of life. India needs more social entrepreneurs like them to build the dream nation, the Ram Rajya, a country where no one sleeps with aching stomach.