Sitting in the Patel Hall of IIT Kharagpur early this summer, I was looking for a substitute for mess food on the Zomato app. Somewhere in between deciding whether to eat Butter Chicken or Chinese, I saw an option to donate to Feeding India. By the time the food arrived, my hunger had grown for something else. I’d been endlessly scrolling, understanding how Feeding India works – their mission statement and the people behind it. I reached out to the leadership team and call it fate, Feeding India was hiring interns at that time. I jumped at the opportunity & through the faint whispers across rooms, I could hear myself thinking – “Your summer is going to be interesting.”
Before getting into my experience at Feeding India, my name is Aryansh and I am a fourth-year student at IIT Kharagpur. In the first three years at my university, I worked as an intern at Harvard Business School, Invest India (Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India), IIM-K, and Continental AG across the domains of Finance, Consulting, and Innovation Sciences.
But what led me to the social impact space? The answer is simple… Why not? I love solving problems and I was excited about having the opportunity to solve, in my own little way, one of the most widespread, and complex problems known to humankind – hunger.
To give you some context on hunger, we live in a nation where every fifth child is wasted and every second woman anaemic. 45% of children’s deaths under the age of 5 years are due to nutrition-related factors and, economically, malnutrition leads to a ~4% loss in the Indian GDP, which amounts to around USD 10,000 crore lost!
When it comes to working towards the hunger-poverty nexus, Feeding India takes a holistic approach where we work with key stakeholders ranging from the government to nonprofits to a large network of volunteers.Some top focus areas are –
When I talk about delivering and planning programs, I’m not sitting at a desk, exchanging flowery words with colleagues. This job required travelling to remote areas of Himachal and barren lands of Rajasthan, to interact with the community and understand the issues at the grassroots level.
The insights from the field often leave you overwhelmed and make it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What helped is that during one such conversation, my mentor said, “I’ve been in the public impact space for the ten+ years. Given the complexity and scale of India, every issue often seems unsolvable. It might be hard to see the immediate outcome of your work, but every improvement is leading to a large-scale impact. Your efforts will pave the way for someone else.”
Our days were filled with as much drive as they were with challenges. I will never forget the moment I represented Feeding India at a District Task Force where we were we were working on improvising existing scheme implementation. I also got to interact with top Indian Administrative Officers and discuss their vision for improving hunger outcomes in their respective jurisdictions.
A regular day at work would be full of new questions and our zeal to answer them. From operations to marketing to finance, everyone is collectively working towards making a real impact. Here, I was not just an intern trying to upgrade my resume with something that would “impress” future employers. At Feeding India, I am a catalyst of change, conversing with innovators and leaders to devise strategies to achieve our vision for a hunger-free India. This exposure has been extraordinary and my learnings are innumerable.
If you ask me now, what have you learned and what’s next? I now realise the importance of food and how even a small donation can make a big difference. In the broader context, I learned about how government mechanisms work, how the social sector identifies and approaches problems, and how people from diverse backgrounds come together to create a progressive world.
My mentor said on Day 1 that this internship is not just about a certificate or money: “ If you will fully immerse yourself, the Feeding India internship will change you as a human on deeper fundamental levels ” And today, I can surely say, I have redeemed the conversation.