A project by Inca and Aayushi
Food For Thought: Project Proposal
The increasing attitude of Consumerism is a great concern for the future of our planet. The Butterfly Effect holds true, where ones smallest moves have several effects.
With reference to sustainable systems, we have decided to concentrate on Srishti as we are in direct contact with it and can monitor its working. We are looking at the dabba system (which is the supposed food source for PG students for lunch) and the system of food as a whole. The various aspects that we want to touch upon are:-
-The data collection. (Which includes the average food wasted, the kind of food and the food preferred)
-The perspective of the PG owners (on what they send and why)
-The fate of the wasted food
-The psychological aspect (on the assumption that the problem also lies in the attitude of the students to their food)
Goal: To rethink the system of dabba food from the various PGs to make a more sustainable food system, which caters better to the students’ needs and wants, which produces less waste, and through which the waste is efficiently dealt with.
50% of deaths in the under-5 years category in India is malnutrition.
Why?: Hunger is something few of us, as Srishti students are familiar with (craving for fast food at 2AM does not count!). Food is a commonsense factor i.e., it is barely ever thought about twice. Through this project, we hope to bring awareness to this community, in the hope that we will not be negligent to the fact that people everywhere in the world live on less than half the food we consume in a meal.
Identifying our Target Group: The target group was rather ambiguous. Not only are the lunches consumed by PG-accommodated students, but also by students from other PGs and some city kids. It changes from day to day (read, contents of the lunch boxes). So, all in all, the entire student body was taken into the large ‘target group’ umbrella.
Research Process and Study: The process we used to study the food habits of the students was to observe them in their natural habit, the cafeteria. When they ate, we implemented multiple methods of intervention to attempt to create a sense of awareness and responsibility.
What we’d like to call the ‘Jhoota hi Sahi’ campaign was started with inspiration from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. We exhibited the waste food from people’s dabba’s on plates, the objective being to create entire plates of food, to symbolic a meal. This intervention required the students to participate (willingly, or by force), since they were expected to empty their own dabbas onto the plates if they had left anything in it, no matter how little.
This campaign was a success beyond our imagination, as people started to help themselves to the plated food , making us realize that most people didn’t have any real issues with eating food from someone else’s dabba, as long as it was clean, and well-presented.
· Perspective of PG Owners: So far, the owners we spoke to said the same things – Taking people’s personal food related issues were difficult, considering the number of people they cater to; A nutritious lunch was (unfortunately) only so much they could provide, and making elaborate meals was supposed to be a once-in-a-way thing, and not the norm; and, the students’ attitude to food was the cause for all this wastage, because of the fact that they are powered by money and the option of eating out when the lunch doesn’t look appetizing enough.
· Perspective of Students: Some said that the food seemed monotonous and so beyond a point, they’d rather eat out. Others decided depending on what was available in the dabbas that day. Few said that they eat lunch every day, no matter what that lunch entailed. Many nibbled, and chose a variety of dabbas, so they could mix and match. People who normally ate with the same group of people tended to share dabbas, so they could get a taste of each.
Roadblocks: As successful as our pilot project may have been, the fact is that many people said that the lack of supervision and infrastructure (plates, spoons, etc. to empty their dabbas onto/with) made it hard to be self-motivated on this account. If it was set up right in front of them, however, they had no problems pitching in.
As this project was taken on for a short-term basis, with regard to our personal presence, we have to now provide alternatives, so this system can become self-sustained.
Aim for Sustainability:
Our next few steps of measure in this project is:
- · To try to set up an independent system that can sustain itself without supervision – An awareness poster campaign is our next point of focus, to attempt to keep people on their toes, post our interventions.
- · We are also looking to the PG owners for support, to try and work out a system for better management of the food they send, maybe through active participation of students.
We have started an awareness campaign where the wasted food is emptied by the students into several plates in quantities sufficient for a one person meal. This will work on two levels. Inject a sense of guilt and embarrassment while also helping us to collect data. The next few steps and the solutions will be based on the response to this intervention. The model that we used for inspiration for this approach was Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.
14/60 plates were wasted today. Most students called this a good food day. hence least wastage. A days food could feed a person for half a month. So one can only begin to imagine how much food is wasted on other days.
The food was laid out on plates (by people who didn’t eat it). As more plates filled up, the table looked like we set up a feast. This actually brought people to the table, who asked if they could help themselves to some of the food, or entire plates full. This brought us to two major realizations:
. People didn’t mind eating other peoples’ food, as long as it didn’t look nibbled on or soiled.
. Presentation is of upmost importance. As long as the food looks well-laid out, people are happy to eat it.
We had some people who also took either rotis or vegetables, and bought the other at the kadai.
Our leftovers were given to some lesser fortunate families and the half-eaten rotis were given to some street dogs. The only thing that was wasted was the extra vegetables and one handful of rice.
Day Two: Where it all began
" I'd rather sit here and be inspired to finish my lunch, rather than put in on those plates myself. " - Damini
One day into this campaign and people were already feeling guilty. No words , no force was used for this.
Hmm.. Jugaad much?
The amount of food we were left with when the students were done with lunch.
" This is 'jootha' food? So what? "-Aakansha
This seemed like a better idea than throwing the food away!
The second Day was a big success. People came and ate the excess food put by student in the plates provided by us, without us approaching them. Most of the food was eaten while the rest was given to the underprivileged. This feeling of satisfaction is rarely felt.
But the question is , what can we do to ensure that no food is wasted in the first place?