August 3, 2015
Coimbatore, Aug 3: Recognition is definitely a boost for youngsters to go the extra mile with their service initiative. Padmanabhan Gopalan, a product of Government College of Technology (GCT) and a resident of Podanur, an entrepreneur, has won the coveted ‘Visionary Award’ for the year 2015 from US-based ‘The Pollination Project’, an organisation engaged in recognising inspiring social change-makers across the globe.
The enterprising youngster told Covai Post that he was glad to receive the grant of $1000 from ‘The Pollination Project’ for his ‘No Food Waste’ initiative, which was well received among the people in Coimbatore and Tirupur. “Of course, this was possible with the efforts of a team, which has been with me in this innovative project and it’s not a single man’s achievement’, he said adding he wanted the award to be dedicated to his entire team.
Terming Padnamabhan Gopalan as ‘The Robin Hood of Excess Food’, Ari Nessel, founder and president of The Pollination Project writes to say that “this is a remarkable work indeed from a youngster like him to feed the poor that too from the excess food wasted in big gatherings. It is interesting to learn from him that around two million pounds of food is being discarded annually at 60 schools and colleges in the city. In a novel way, Padmanabhan had set up a hotline at hotels, banquet halls, catering facilities to give a call on surplus food to ‘No Food Waste’ team.”
The team collects the excess food and does repacking to be distributed to poor people sheltered in orphanages, old age homes and those languishing on roadsides. According to Padnamabhan, over 6200 meals have been distributed since October 2014 through his small group of friends and volunteers. Going a step further, the team also conducts awareness campaigns at schools, colleges and at service clubs on reducing food waste.
Padmanabhan speaking about his future plans said that he is aiming to feed at least 3000 poor people each month in Coimbatore and is toying with the idea of expanding it to other cities to distribute 60000 meals a month diverted from landfills. As the winner of the Visionary Award, Padmanaban has earned $1000 and development assistance from a stable of non profit professionals. The Visionary Award celebrates The Pollination Project’s 1000th grant, and one million dollars in seed grants given to social-change projects worldwide.
It may be noted that The Pollination Project was started just two and a half years ago and every day they give away $1000 to an individual change-maker, to seemingly ordinary people doing extraordinary things, people every bit a visionary as Padmanaban. We have funded visionaries in 58 countries, from nine year olds to grandmothers, who have created hundreds of projects to promote arts and culture, economic empowerment, environmental sustainability, health, food justice, and much more.
“We’re blessed to receive this recognition,” Padmanaban told us. “People are supporting us and great things are happening to make the project reach many. This system can be replicated in any part of the country, to serve more people, and eliminate hunger.”