The holy month of Ramzan is celebrated the world over as a month of abstinence, fervent prayer, and selfless giving. In Pakistan, the blessed month of Ramzan is very much spent the same way as families, relatives, friends, and colleagues come together to commemorate this highly revered month. From sunrise to evening, from Sehri to Iftar, Ramzan is a season of togetherness, sharing, and acts of charity.
However, in Pakistan, it is also a month of buffet dinners, Sehri and Iftar deals, and widespread food wastage. Not only in Ramzan but all the year round, large amounts of cooked and good quality food is discarded at weddings, restaurants and even at home.
In a country where marginalized and underprivileged communities sleep hungry each day, approximately 40% of cooked food is wasted by the privileged classes.
To tackle the food wastage and starvation crisis in Pakistan, three LUMS graduates, Huzaifa Ahmad, Musa Amir and Qasim Javed, came up with a strategy to collect surplus food from restaurants, homes, and weddings, and to bring it to the starving and the needy. Their recently established social entrepreneur project, called RIZQ, was based on two main objectives i.e. firstly to decrease the amount of food wasted in society and secondly to feed the marginalized and starving communities.
To do this, the trio created a Facebook page that highlighted their plan of collecting food and distributing it among those who were in need. The idea was welcomed by many and the Facebook page generated 5000 likes overnight. For now, RIZQ is only limited to Lahore.
How Do They Distribute Food to the Needy?
The Rizq team follows a highly structured plan of action that starts with identifying underprivileged areas within Lahore, then advertising food drives to encourage people to donate leftover food items, after which a partner NGO conducts nutrition tests of people living in the identified areas to determine their needs. After the food has been collected, quality assured and sorted, it is divided into small packages and distributed to those in need.
During the month of Ramzan, Rizq aims to organize 2-3 Iftar ‘Dastarkhans’ at various localities each day. To expand their operations, Rizq plans to buy cold storage vans to manage larger quantities of food on a day to day basis. With this facility, the founders of Rizq aim to increase the average number of meals per day from 250 to 2000, which they realize is still less compared to the hundreds of people who cannot afford a meal every day.
In spite of the many challenges faced along the way, the Rizq team dreams of completely eliminating food wastage and starvation in Pakistan through small and sustainable initiatives as such, that have a huge and long-lasting impact.