A food bank, run by a businessman, is satisfying the hunger of poor people arriving at the government-run Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi.
Forty-two-year-old Vijay Pathak has been serving free home-made food to around 200 people every day for the last 2.5 years. While the entire cost is borne by Pathak, sometimes he receives food grains from others as charity.
The initiative — Roti Bank Ranchi — started on a small scale when Pathak and his wife prepared food for 15-20 people sleeping on pavement. Pathak says the idea came to his mind when his father was admitted to RIMS for around a month. “My father was admitted to RIMS 16 years back. I saw many people sleeping on empty stomach as they did not have money to buy food. It was then I took a pledge that whenever I become capable, I will provide free food,” he says. Roti Bank Ranchi was launched on March 1, 2020, just before the pandemic outbreak.
Pathak says he never accepts money for the campaign. He believes that it will not serve the purpose as the money received from others could be misused. In order to maintain transparency, he puts distribution of food plates live on his Facebook page — Roti Bank Ranchi — on a daily basis.
“Each food plate costs around Rs 20, the cost of which is borne completely by me,” says Pathak, adding that sometimes people donate food grains.
Roti Bank Ranchi also collects prepared food from marriage parties and other ceremonial gatherings and distributes it among the poor.
Madhukar Shyam, who helps in providing food grains to Roti Bank Ranchi, says that Pathak has done a great job. “We try to help him in this campaign as much as we can,” he says. Parvati Devi, who came from Palamu for the treatment of her husband, was all happy for the free food. “Since I cannot afford the food at nearby hotels, Roti Bank Ranchi has been feeding me for last two days.”