Mumbai Robin Hoods target Indian weddings for food relief

© Adnan Abidi
Food delivery crews of Mumbai are opening a ‘Roti’ bank - to get food from the rich to the poor. And the leftovers from India’s infamous $40bn wedding market could supply the goods.

400 dabbawalas (food carriers), are sourcing leftovers and unwanted food from the edges of the city’s massive wedding and catering market. They have partnered with 30 large wedding caterers and planners who have pledged to provide the crucial pick-up info.

"Why should be the food dumped in the bin when it can be shared with those who cannot afford one proper meal a day?" dabbawala union spokesperson, Subhash Talekar said. "We are known for quickly reaching a location and delivering lunch boxes. We want to use the same skills to help the poor."

Mumbai’s dabbawala network is famous for its efficiency. Around 170,000 meals are delivered by 5000 dabbawala’s a day.

Indians traditionally prefer to eat home cooked meals at work. Dabbawalas pick up lunches from homes and deliver them to offices before returning empty lunch boxes to homes.

The dabbawalas have pledged to pick up unwanted food from private parties too. The system will work as a not-for-profit initiative.

Indian weddings are famous for their excess. The average Indian wedding lasts about three days and can cost up to $300,000, with food costing up to $128 per plate, for as many as 1,000 guests, according to the Times of India.

Food is of course a big part of Indian wedding celebrations. A 2012 study found that Bangalore wastes 943 tonnes of food at weddings each year.