Volunteering to end hunger
The Robin Hood Army
28 නොවැම්බර් 2019

The Robin Hood Army and its Operations

As a growing number of organizations pledge to the zero-hunger mission of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a number of challenges arise as these groups tread into new territory and take on a global hurdle, with one such group being the Robin Hood Army (RHA).

Since the RHA’s inception in August 2014, the organization has scaled to over 48,000 volunteers spread across the world with chapters spread across 158 cities, including Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Uganda and others located in North America and the Middle East. Globally, the mission has been able to serve over 26 million meals.

The volunteers, while originating from diverse backgrounds, are largely young working professionals from various fields. The less fortunate sections which the organization reaches out to include homeless families, orphanages, night shelters, homes for abandoned children and patients from public hospitals.

In Sri Lanka, the organization hosts a volunteer base of 500+ passionate individuals that have surpassed 70,000 meals served since its beginning in 2016.

 

The Local Challenge

Organizations focused on the zero hunger SDG rely heavily on their ‘sweat-equity’ to carry out their operations and receiving a constant inflow of volunteers proves troubling at times. While these organizations recruit mainly from schools, universities, corporate offices, and other established youth programs, a sole platform that links these multiple institutions and the general public would greatly aid both host organizations in looking for volunteers and vice versa.

Volunteer involved organizations that deal with food wastage and hunger have to take heed to the shelf-life of their meals, to avoid serving meals unfit for consumption. Although these VIO’s may have the ground knowledge on handling food, expert insight into food safety measures and best practices would most definitely assist in streamlining and expanding their operations. Furthermore, in efforts to improve their standards, knowledge and resources from industry experts would greatly aid the groups operations in terms of medical tests to ensure reliability of its volunteers as well as on-the-spot food safety tests to ensure all food handled passes national or global health standards. Once again, a platform or network to bridge the gap between these host organizations and industry leaders would exponentially increase any organizations reach.

The next equally important component in a supply chain – the recipients. While these organizations primarily target the impoverished or homeless individuals, accessing these communities can prove challenging. Although some are accommodated in government housing, others within districts are not easily identified. A central registrar updated regularly with the local Grama Sewaka as a point of contact would streamline operations for these organizations or CSR groups looking for deserving beneficiaries.

Lastly, while any volunteer involved organization is made up of a diverse group of individuals of all ages, races, religions and backgrounds, enrolling differently abled individuals proves challenging due to some of the ‘fast-paced field-work’ projects these groups organize. An inclusive transport system along with education for engaging and communicating with the differently abled would ensure that this community is easily included into the volunteer lifestyle & culture.

The Robin Hood Army
28 නොවැම්බර් 2019
The Robin Hood Army is a volunteer-based organization that works to get surplus food from restaurants to the less fortunate sections of society.

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