ALPHARETTA, Ga. — A non-profit agency, founded to better the local environment, is putting in work toward its mission and helping to satisfy appetites along the way.
Green Cell Inc. was founded in 2018 by Pankaj Rajankar and Sandesh Shinde who wanted to bring about community change. The organization seeks to raise awareness about environmental issues and address them with sustainable solutions. The mechanism behind that approach is awareness, action and activism, fueled by volunteers from Fulton and Forsyth counties.
“I have a 13 year son (who) was my motivation to get (Green Cell) started because I could see the big problems all over the planet, but I did not see real ground level work happening around me,” Shinde said. “I could see that there is so much waste happening in many different ways, and I wanted to tackle that by my own hands and ideas with likeminded people.”
The community outreach includes neighborhood composting sessions in Johns Creek and Cumming, education webinars and a beautification project at the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve in Johns Creek completed by Green Cell’s youth group.
The latest initiative is food rescue, a program that gets food that would otherwise be discarded into the hands of the needy. The initiative recently posted a 2-ton score from a Hindu temple in Alpharetta.
The food, consisting of rice, beans, spices, cooking oils and other non-perishable items, had been donated to the Sri Hanuman Mandir Hindu Temple in Alpharetta as an offering. As attendance tapered off, the foodstuffs sat dormant. A Green Cell volunteer approached temple leadership about putting the items to better use — all 4,060 pounds.
“One of our volunteers, who also volunteers (at the temple) talked to the management, and we were able to convince them to get the food from their kitchen storage and take it over to three different organizations,” Rajankar said.
Data from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division indicates wasted food makes up 12 percent, more than 800,000 tons, of the waste sent to state landfills each year. About 48 percent of the waste originates from the greater Atlanta area. Wasted foods include unsold items from retail stores, restaurants or households and processing facility by-products.
The recovered food was trucked to North Fulton Community Charities, Food4Lives and Raksha, Inc., where it will provide sustenance to the hungry and homeless.
Green Cell volunteers collect between 100-200 pounds of food and produce from a grocery store on Monday and Friday each week. The produce is then distributed at NFCC’s food pantry. Additional food items are picked up each week from a local bakery.
“What we try to do is bring change within ourselves, our family and then we try to change our community,” Rajankar said. “It is a mindset change, that I have to do something, that I have to change something in my lifestyle.”
Additional information about the organization is available at greencellatl.com.