Special Youngsters Are Managing A Mobile Food Truck & Organic Market In Hyderabad

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A small quaint shop in Madhura Nagar, Hyderabad and a brand new grocery truck – that’s all the presence Swacch Organic Bazaar has in the thriving city. Outwardly, the name might sound like just another organic retail outlet, but the social enterprise has a farther-reaching impact on society than meets the eye. Swacch Organic Bazaar is operated completely by two special young adults, assisted periodically by children who face learning challenges. The store is founded by Suparna Bajaj with the help of Sahithi Reddy and Pooja Raina.

“Ranging from taking orders to delivering them, these youngsters manage everything perfectly They are getting hands-on experience in business management in an enjoyable, creative way,” asserts Suparna, in a conversation with Efforts For Good. She adds how the kids are enjoying an upfront exposure to the real world and confidently dealing with every challenge.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

Why Swacch Organic Bazaar stands out

“It’s a great experience to work in the store. Previously we were under training at the school and now we are full-time employees – the transition has been amazing. We have acquired a lot of life skills. I really enjoy working here with my friends. Some problems do come up at times, but the positive learning environment really helps us,” one of the employees shares happily.

Suparna Bajaj, a proud mother, has always been an advocate of creative, experiential education rather than textbook-based rote-learning. In addition, she is an organic farming enthusiast, with her own flourishing farm of chemical-free vegetables and fruits. Together with her co-founders, she decided to amalgamate the two aspects together – thus birthing Swachh Organic Bazaar in 2017.

A to Z of organic products

“Aside from fresh produce from my farm and a few other organic farms in the neighbourhood, the shop sells A to Z of organic products – rice, pulses, cold-pressed oils, homemade snacks, baked goods as well as sustainable cutlery. At the start of the week, we send out a list of our products to the clients. The shop has a considerable number of conscious customers, who place their orders through WhatsApp or calls.”

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“The permanent employees, along with the kids, jot down the orders and pack the items which are later collected by the customers from the shop or delivered to their doorstep. Our special kids flawlessly supervise every little thing. As part of the home science curriculum, the kids have learnt to bake a wide range of breads and other products. We are super proud of how much expertise they have acquired in such a short span of time,” declares Suparna.

Swacch Organic Bazaar

The truck is the latest addition in the accomplishments of Swacch Organic Bazaar. Launched very recently, the truck is bound to roam through the neighbourhood delivering orders at customers’ doorstep.

A unique learning experience

While the main store is run by the two adults, both over 21 years of age, the young children take turns to get involved in the day-to-day operations after school hours. “For the children, it’s refreshing to get out of the classrooms and training centres. They see, touch and feel vegetables and grains to identify them. They weigh the products, calculate bills, and thereby learn the basic rules of Maths. Some of these kids are even appearing for their board examinations now,” shares Suparna.

Swacch Organic Bazaar

Setting up a professional work culture

The permanent employees of the store are entitled to monthly salary and performance-based incentives. While they are rewarded for extra work, they are also penalised for late turn-ups or other negligence. The work culture has been strictly kept in accordance with a professional set up.

The founding team was caring enough to provide wholesome guidance and training to these youngsters before employing them in their shop. They worked for a while as managing stuff at a popular luxury hotel in Hyderabad as well as at an organic farm.

Swacch Organic Bazaar

Gradually, the youngsters got inducted the tenets of a positive work culture. They learnt punctuality and keeping up with daily goals. They learnt to deal with different types of clients and address all their grievances patiently. “That’s when we knew that they were soon-to-be adept professionals,” she adds.

“As adults, we need to unlearn our preset notions and try to see the world through the eyes of the kids. That is how we can help build a better and more beautiful society,” the two co-founders resonate together.

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- Mother Theresa Quote

‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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