ISLAMABAD: Even as the government has set up its own shelter homes in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi to provide a roof to and food to the homeless and destitute, one social organisation which has gained a reputation for collecting surplus food from restaurants and wedding halls has opened its own centre in the federal capital where the destitute can eat good meals at lower prices.
‘Rizq Bachao’, is a mobile application-based service started by three students from the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) including Huzaifa Ahmed, Musa Amir and Qasim Javed, with the aim of redistributing leftover and surplus food from restaurants and wedding halls to address hunger and malnutrition.
The service was launched in Lahore in 2015 and received praise and even corporate support. It has finally made its way to the federal capital, opening up a physical outlet near the Bari Imam Darbar shrine in Muslim Colony.
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“The idea [for the project] was generated by students to provide food at the cheapest rates to the poor and orphans in their own capacity,” said Shehzad Nasir, the manager of the Rizq Bachao branch, while talking to The Express Tribune.
He added that initially, the founders worked directly with certain restaurants, caterers and wedding hall owners but later they developed a mobile app which allowed a larger cross-section of the public to donate and facilitate the cause.
But coming to a different city, Nasir said that they had to establish linkages anew. They met with owners of local marquee and bakers and convinced them to sell them the extra or remaining food so that it can be provided to the needy people.
“We have entered into agreements with all the marquees, Fortress and Sector F-8 hotel Association of Monal, La Montana and Sector I-11 to provide us with the leftover and surplus food so that they can be given to the poor and needy people at the cheapest rates,” Nasir said.
Regarding the branch, Nasir said that they looked at the city and came to a decision to open the first branch in the slums of Muslim Colony. The service, though, is not just limited to taking food from restaurants and then allowing the poor to purchase it at lower costs.
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“The idea is spread over five basic programmes including ‘Rizq Bachao’, ‘Rizq Daig, ‘Rizq Lunch’, ‘Rizq Ration’ and ‘Rizq Khaana’,” Nasir explained, elaborating that they mean redistributing the leftover food at bakers and marquees amongst the poor, distribution of cauldron (daig) amongst the poor every week, provision of monthly basic ration and further provision of food at cheap rates.
Thus far, the service has received a moderate response as the federal capital fails to shake off the winter chills.
“In the last week, we have registered some 23 poor families at the branch who were provided with a month’s ration two days ago,” Nasir said, adding that the ration package includes 20 kilogrammes of flour, rice, ghee, tea, lentils, and salt.
He hoped to register a further 30 families in the coming week.
Asked what did they base their prices on, he said that they only charge to recover their transportation costs.
“We are providing a kilogramme of chicken and mutton curry for Rs80, a kilogramme of frozen fish for Rs100, lentils, rice, vegetables and other bakery items at Rs40 per kilogramme,” he said, adding that items such as burger buns for Rs5, tarts, muffins, biscuits and patties are sold for as low as Rs10, pastries, brownies, croissants, small bread, chocolate mousse, pita bread, zinger burger bun, fruit bun, small chicken bread for Rs20, sandwich, milk, fruit cake and large chicken bread for Rs30, while cakes are sold for Rs100.
He added that they also aim to start distribution of the cauldron (daig) at a designated point from next week.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2019.
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