Written By: Khushee Wasnik (Intern, UPAY)
Food is a necessity for all. It is the fundamental right of every citizen on his planet. A consequence of the current global health crisis has been the disruption of the food supply chain across countries. This consequence has been even severe for the poor and marginalised community. In response to this adversity, UPAY set up a Ration Distribution Initiative at the beginning of 2020.
The Procedure to distribute ration by UPAY NGO
The procedure is simple. We have set up two helpline numbers so anyone in need can reach out to us. One caters to the North-South region, headed by Ms Jyoti Agarwal. The other caters to the East-West region, led by Mr Indrapal Neware. Once these numbers were circulated to the public via personal contacts and social media pages, the requests poured in.
A team of volunteers note down details like name, addresses, Aadhar information and verify the requests. Further Information about their situation – employment status, number of family members, any extenuating circumstances unique to the family, were gathered. These details informed the kind of kit that would be delivered to the family.
Each kit includes wheat, rice, pulses, oil, spices, tea, and sugar. It is given for 15 or 30 days depending upon the request placed. Once the quantity is confirmed, the beneficiaries put their nearest grocery/Kirana store with the UPAY team. The store hands the instructed items to the family and sends the bill to UPAY, who pays it online.
The helplines occasionally get bulk requests from families located in the same region. One individual is put in charge of these requests to ensure that the supplies are procured in proper quantities and delivered in time. On receipt of the kit, beneficiaries are asked to sign a document signifying they have received the ration. This entire process takes less than three days to complete.
None of this would have been possible without our sponsors’ financial support, the Tzu Chi Foundation located in Taiwan and the Hope Anti-Addiction Action Group in India.
Today more than a year after initiation, the program is still going strong. The Pandemic is not over, and ripples of its repercussions are still felt, especially at the grassroots levels. Here are two stories where our initiative was able to help the people of a town and a city survive during these trying times.
UPAY Ration Camp at Khatima,
In the foot of the Himalayas, cradled in nature’s arms, is a little town called Khatima (in Uttrakhand). We got requests for ration from the residents of the town at the height of the second wave of the COVID pandemic. India was hit hard, and the small town suffered the consequences of the lockdown.
A team consisting of our founder and Chairman Mr Varun Shrivastava, Zonal Director of Delhi, Ms Mithila Malhotra and Zonal Director of Gurugram, Mr Akhil Mahajan, travelled to the town to understand their issues and understand how UPAY could help.
The team realised that the residents had to travel hours to get the basic groceries due to the lockdown. Thus, they set camp for two days at Khatima for the ration distribution. A tie-up with the local lender helped in procuring supplies. The cooperative attitude of the people ensured the smooth sailing of the process. People were not worried that they might not receive the ration kits and patiently waited their turn. The team at UPAY credits the camp’s success to the sensitive sensibility of the beneficiaries of Khatima.
UPAY Team Battling the Flood in Kolar
Kolar is a small city in Karnataka. True to the reputation of the state, the city is best known for its Someshwar Temple. This region often faces the problem of overflowing lakes and rivers in the area during heavy rainfall. This monsoon the city received the worst of what the season had to offer.
The city was submerged in water. The roads weren’t distinguishable anymore. People had to resort to the use of makeshift boats to go from one place to another. When residents in distress reached out to UPAY, we contacted the local volunteers to help out as much as possible. We would like to give a special mention to Mr Shiva Kumar, without whose support the initiative would not have been a success. The collaboration between UPAY, and the local volunteers helped Kolar residents meet their food shortage.
Most of us reading this blog today are privileged to have three meals on our tables even during these unprecedented times. However, not everyone is as fortunate. No one should have to be devoid of an essential resource like food. The Ration Distribution Initiative has helped many individuals across India to procure food for their families. We hope to help many more in future, to the best of our abilities.